FRISCO, Texas – The rankings say the Cowboys' defense has done a lot of things right this season.
They remain top 10 in points and yards allowed despite last Thursday's loss to Buffalo, the Bills' 26 points at AT&T Stadium marking the fourth-highest total against Dallas this season.
To take "the next step" in the final month, as passing game coordinator Kris Richard said, the defense must get back on the takeaway track.
The Cowboys have not forced a turnover in four games – not since piling up seven takeaways in back-to-back wins over the Eagles and Giants in late October/early November, with the bye week sandwiched in between.
The Cowboys are one of 17 teams with a negative turnover margin (minus-4). Their 12 takeaways through 12 games are tied for the third-fewest in the league. The Broncos, Cardinals and Chargers also have 12. Only the Falcons (10), Bengals (10) and Dolphins (9) have fewer.
Of that group, all but the Cowboys (6-6) have a losing record.
They believe they're capable of much more.
"It's capturing our opportunities," said Richard, who is also serves as the team's defensive backs coach. "We've had our hand on the ball. We've gotten in there and we've sacked the quarterback. But it's got to be the next step. When the ball hits our hands we've got to bring them home. And obviously when we're going in there to sack the quarterback we've got to find a way to get it out. More rip attempts, more strip attempts.
"The thing is you have to do it through discipline. At the end of the day, you do it through discipline, not by going out there and trying to create miracles."