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Mailbag: Can Cowboys win without turnovers?


The Cowboys are now 0-4 when the defense doesn't create a turnover, and they had only one in their other loss? Is that surprising? This is one of the most-talented defenses in the league, yet they seemingly live and die by these big plays. How do they change the trend? – Bennie Walters/Shreveport, LA

Nick Harris:Mike McCarthy preaches complimentary football being a big focus for the team in being able to push towards wins, and we've seen that season. The Cowboys are 1-5 when they lose the turnover battle, as it typically results in long, sustained drives by opponents that turn into points. When one side of the ball is playing well on this team, it typically results in the other side playing well too. Reverse play obviously causes reverse results.

Patrik: Yes, but the task becomes more daunting. It's not unheard of for a team to get a victory without having taken the ball away, but I'd say it's more about the turnover margin itself, and not simply the turnovers. What I mean by that is if the Cowboys take the ball away twice but give it away twice, it's potentially a wash — depending upon the context in which they happen. All of that being said, this is a defense that thrives on its ability to do two things: pressure the QB and take the ball away. The problem is that you have to play near-perfect football yourself if you're not turning the other team over, and that's the problem in those four losses: the Cowboys suffered from execution errors and self-inflicted penalties that combined with lack of takeaways to cost them the game. You can't have all three of those things occur and expect to leave the game with a victory.

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