Putting Big D In Dallas

25.3. 

And to think the Cowboys have given up just 14 touchdowns in eight games. Do you remember how many touchdowns they gave up last year? Try 49, an average of three a game, and 31 of those were passing touchdowns. So far, just 10 passing touchdowns - seven in the first three games. 

"But it hasn't been an easy transition," says Glover, who understands the Cowboys gave up nearly half of their points (69) in the first three games. "I'd give us a B. Solid B. We left some plays on the field. There is room for improvement." 

They need only remember ends to the Washington, Giants and Seattle games to remain humble. They lost games they led in two of those, and escaped a third lead lost against the Giants with an overtime survival. 

"If we make one or two more plays we won't be in that crunch-time situation at the end of games," Glover said. 

Maybe most surprising is how well the Cowboys have played the run, probably the biggest adjustment needed moving from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Glover had to relearn the nose position. Ellis had to learn to become a 3-4 defensive end. All the linebackers needed to learn a new game, though Dat Nguyen did play a 3-4 in college. Canty had to just relearn to play football period, after missing most of his senior year following reconstructive knee surgery. 

But so far, so good. The Cowboys rank sixth against the run, giving up 89.1 yards a game - a significant improvement over last year's 110.3. Oakland's LaMont Jordan is the only back to go for 100 yards rushing against the Cowboys, finishing with 126. No other back has gained more than LaDainian Tomlinson's 72. That's not bad when you figure they also have faced Tiki Barber, Clinton Portis, Brian Westbrook and Shawn Alexander. 

Here is another thing the Cowboys have improved upon over last year: The longest run by an opponent belongs to San Francisco's Kevan Barlow, 27 yards. Jordan had a 24-yarder and Washington quarterback Mark Brunell, on a scramble out of the pocket went for 25. But that's it, three runs for more than the 13-yarder accounted for by another scrambling quarterback, Tim Rattay. That's pretty darn good when you consider the Cowboys have leaked runs of more than 12 yards to running backs only twice in eight games, and that five of the six runs for 12 or more yards occurred in the first four games. 

"Going to the 4-3, we had a lot of guys out of their comfort zones," said James, tied for the team lead with 42 tackles. "Now, everyone has adjusted. Right now we're developing a swagger, and after this next three-game stretch, we'll know where we are. This will tell the tale of where we are defensively." 

James speaks of the next three games, which will be played over an 11-day stretch: Monday night in Philadelphia, Sunday at home against Detroit and Thanksgiving Day against the currently 6-2 Denver Broncos, who have put up 201 points in eight games. Sure would be nice to win two of those three, but to do so would mean at least winning in Philly on a Monday night or beating the Broncos. Who knows, might have to do both. 

But first things first: The Eagles, who no doubt after this latest T.O. episode will be rallying the troops to make what could be their last stand with a national TV audience tuning in to inspect their dirty laundry. Losing to Dallas would be their third-straight loss, dropping them to 4-5 and either two or three games off the lead, depending on what the Giants do with Minnesota. 

So this will not be easy on the Cowboys. Dealing with the Eagles, even though they already have beaten them 33-10 this year, is one thing. And that pasting in Dallas might make the second time around even more difficult. Having to play at The Linc is one thing. Having to play at night at The Linc is one thing. And having to play a Monday Night Football game on the road, especially in Philadelphia, is one thing. That's a lot of things. 

But now, with the Eagles front office taking such a iron-fisted stand with T.O., those proud souls who fill up The Linc will arrive with starched blue collars proudly turned up high. That will be a whole 'nuther story. What better way for the City of Brotherly Shove to save face than by beating the Cowboys. Sweet nirvana. 

So Cowboys

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