right, this unit which had so many sweating bullets after seeing the Eagles put up 37 points this past Monday night, even if 14 of those were the responsibility of the offense and a bogus interference call, showed some championship-caliber traits on a sticky Sunday night. Suddenly these big, bad Packers who had scored 48 points the previous Sunday and 72 in two games behind first-year starter Aaron Rodgers, for the first time might have been yearning for Brett Favre. Look when Barber fumbled at the Packers 12 with 5:34 to play and the Cowboys leading 27-9, Green Bay had scored just nine points - two first-half field goals and a field goal in the second. To that point, the Pack had gained just 233 yards and Rodgers had passed for just 153 yards of the 290 he finished with this night.
Sure, they moved the ball at times. And sure Pacman Jones had another dead-head moment in coverage, allowing Donald Driver to get behind him for a 50-yard reception. Sure the Packers had a couple of lengthy drives.
But here is the bottom line: Nine points. The Packers were just one-of-three in the red zone. They were just four-of-14 on third downs (29 percent). Had the Cowboys not backed off when leading by 18 points with just five minutes to play, these numbers could have been overwhelming.
"Look, we're not a bad defense," said Cowboys nose tackle Tank Johnson. "We stayed tough and we got a tough team."
Or as safety Pat Watkins would say, "They can drive all they want, but if they're not scoring (touchdowns), they aren't doing anything."
The Packers' idea of scoring touchdowns and moving the ball in this game played right into what is becoming this team's strength: Its change-up defenses, which has never been the case most of this decade. The Packers, as Watkins pointed out, "didn't want to play smash-mouth with us," so they continually tried to spread the Cowboys out with three-receiver sets, some even four.
OK by the Cowboys these days. First they countered on first and second downs against these multiple-receivers sets with what is best described as their single-safety high package, where they maintain the integrity of their 3-4 front, and instead of taking out a linebacker so they can bring in another cover corner, they simply remove a safety, leaving Hamlin back deep by himself.
And when it becomes obvious passing situations, then they come with their dime package, which might as well be their nickel these days, with Kevin Barnett the sole linebacker, starting corners Terence Newman and Anthony Henry moving into the slots, coming in with Pacman Jones and Mike Jenkins on the outside and Sunday with Courtney Brown at safety for Watkins just to give him a little rest.
That seemed to befuddled the Packers, and Rodgers somewhat, who was under duress from the Cowboys' pass rush most of the day. And again, with the plaster coverage, Rodgers was sacked five times, giving the Cowboys nine sacks in the past two games and matching their two highest totals from last year.
"I thought it was pretty outstanding," Phillips said of the Cowboys defense that now has held two of its first three opponents to less than 17 points. "Our defense played pretty well the whole game. I was proud of our defense."
Proud of Bradie James, who tied Pacman Jones for the team lead with eight tackles. Proud of Jay Ratliff, who racked up another sack, another tackle for a loss and another quarterback hit. But especially proud of Henry, who not only recorded the first two sacks of his eight-year career, but also finished with six tackles, two tackles for losses, two quarterback hits and one deflected pass - most of this damage coming from lining up inside on the change-up defenses where he is getting better and better.
But here is the absolute best part of the Cowboys going on the road, in a short week, to a place where they had never previously won and beating a team by 11 that was 2-0:
They were happy but hardly satisfied.
"We could have done better," said Ratliff, basically the lasting refrain from this game from both sides of the ball. "We have a lot to work on. The truth of the matter is . . . we