Ride That Defense, Ride

confidence we can play with anybody. 

"We just have to outdo what we did last time out." 

But can this defense carry this team the rest of the way? 

"I think they look at it as if it's their job to play well," Parcells said. 

Not only their job to defend, but maybe even to score, too. You realize the Cowboys had interception returns in consecutive games for touchdowns - Anthony Henry with a 58-yarder against Arizona and Roy Williams 46 yards for the game-winner against Philadelphia. They almost had three in a row if a false start on Detroit hadn't wiped out Glenn's pick returned for a touchdown. And if not for that, then nearly four in a row when Glenn's pick against the Giants was returned to the Giants 7. 

Funny thing in that Giants game, with the Cowboys trailing 17-3, didn't this thought cross your mind, too: The Cowboys need a defensive score if they are to have any chance of getting back in this game. And as if on cue, here came Glenn. 

"Our mentality has been, no matter what adversity comes our way, we got to play," said inside linebacker Bradie James, and not scoring on offense is adversity enough. "And now it's when you make a play, try to score. Why not pick up a fumble and score. Why not intercept a pass and score." 

Actually, down 17-0, Shanle said the mentality in the huddle became one of "there is no reason why we can't" score, too. 

Thus, lean on us, you know. 

Now Parcells realizes that is a tall order when you are facing a Kansas City team averaging 25 points a game or a Carolina team averaging 24 points a game or a St. Louis team, despite its 5-7 record, averaging 24.5 points a game, as the Cowboys must in three of the final four games. 

But hey, he knows where his bread is buttered, and over the past months or so with his offense struggling, Parcells has played to his defense. That is why so many scream about this offense being too conservative. 

Not conservative, but actually camouflage. See, what Parcells has been trying to do is hide his offensive weaknesses with play calling and accentuate his team's strength, defense. So the idea is to attempt fewer passes down field which need five- and seven-step drops to compensate for the team's rather inadequate pass blocking of late. In doing so, he's trying to insure against backfield catastrophes (see Giants game) to give his defense more field to work with. Or against turnovers directly resulting in touchdowns (see Denver and the Giants). 

Makes sense to me. Not you? 

Now Parcells hasn't given up on an offensive resurgence: "We need our whole offense to pick up a little bit, but I believe we can do it."  

If the offense is going to "do it," then it might need some assistance. That's where the defense must come in for the Cowboys, not only holding the opponent's offense at bay, but maybe even pitching in with some scoring, too, or as James says, "On the defensive side of the ball you want to be proactive, take the fight to them. 

"We just can't be satisfied with causing that fumble or that tackle for a loss. That's our mindset." 

Must be catalytic converters if you will, do whatever it takes to help the cause. And if need be to get the message across, go get one of those Boys Town figurines.   

MICK SHOTS

   
  Speaking of trends, here is a new one: After opposing kickers hit 15-of-15 field-goal attempts to start this season against the Cowboys, these kicking dudes suddenly have tailed off, going just 2-for-5 in the past four games. OK, two of the misses were from 60 and 50, but hey, of the 15 straight, five included ones from 49, 52, 55 and two from 50. 
  Here is how the Cowboys must fix their offense: Average more than 3.3 yards a carry. They currently are on pace to set the single-season franchise low for average yards per carry, established in . . . 1960, that inaugural 0-11-1 season. Gracious. Why they averaged 3.9 in 2003 with Troy Hambrick carrying the ball

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