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Eatman: Believable or Not, the Turnaround is Real


ARLINGTON, Texas – The same reasons you sometimes hate football are the very reasons you always love it.

If that doesn't make sense, I'm sorry. Actually, I'm sorry that I'm not sorry because in reality, football doesn't always make sense.

There's no way this makes "football sense." You don't get beat on Sunday Night Football by the Buccaneers, 19-3, and lose your starting quarterback to a broken thumb … and then get hot and win three straight games with a backup quarterback who probably wouldn't even be in the NFL if it weren't for the Cowboys.

But yet, Cooper Rush comes in and the Cowboys are now one of the hottest teams in the league, thanks to a balanced effort that keeps getting better and better.

I don't know why I love this stat so much, but it truly describes what is happening right now with this team. In four games, the offense keeps improving their point total, going from 3 to 20 to 23 and now 25. That's cool, right? What's even better is the defense is doing the same thing – but in the other direction. The Cowboys have allowed 19 points, then 17, 16 and now 10 points Sunday against Washington.

Yeah, that's a trendy stat that the Cowboys could only hope stays alive. But it also represents a team that is simply finding a way to win games.

No, nothing has been overly pretty – aside from some of these deep balls from Rush to CeeDee Lamb and Noah Brown, or even the one Trevon Diggs picked off before halftime. But you get the point. These three victories have been grind-it-out games where the offense just hangs around and eventually gets enough points on the board because the defense has been truly dominant from start to finish.

That happened here Sunday as the Cowboys needed four quarters to finally pull away and get comfortable. But in reality, they had enough points to win this game at halftime. That's because the defense is truly carrying this team.

I remember using the word "nasty" several times before the start of the season when describing what I thought the defense would be, mainly led by Micah Parsons.

After four games, nasty is an appropriate description. The defense entered the week leading the NFL in sacks and got two more. They also got two more interceptions and once again kept teams under 20 points.

This marked the first time in 49 years that the Cowboys have begun a season without letting an opponent score over 20 points in the first four games.

What's awesome about this defense is that you can call them "bend-but-don't-break" if you'd like. Honestly, they don't really bend that much. It'd be one thing if they gave up a ton of yards and then down in the red zone they tighten up and force field goals. But this team only allowed Washington three trips into the red zone, scoring one touchdown with one field goal.

Now, on the flip side, it's not like the Cowboys have been camped out in the red zone themselves. They also had just three trips inside the 20-yard line and scored one touchdown. But they did have two field goals as well, and scored a couple of other times from farther out.

This offense isn't rolling along by any means, but it's getting better and better each week. And if we're being honest, the offense has had some share of good luck, too.

How many times has Cooper Rush tried to throw an interception here? He threw two on Sunday that were called back. He's had some others get tipped up in the air but fall incomplete.

Like we've said, this isn't always a thing of beauty, but it doesn't have to be when the defense is playing like this on the other side.

What's great about Rush, other than his record as a starter, is that he's fully aware of this.

"They're the reason we are winning. It's just plain and simple," Rush said. "Ten points in the NFL is pretty impressive. (Washington) had really good field position all day and our defense just kept them out of the end zone. As an offense, knowing that they have your back like that is huge. That's one of their messages, 'We have everyone's back.'"

True. And that's the reason the Cowboys are back as well, sitting in a much better spot than they were a month ago.

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