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Short Fields Strapping Cowboys Defense

Four games into the season and coordinator Rob Ryan is seeming like a genius on the defensive side of the ball. The unit has held up its end of the bargan in all four contests.

And yet the Cowboys are allowing an average of 25.3 points per game, just 23rd in the league.

Now, Sunday's two interception return touchdowns by the Lions account for 14 points, and there was the blocked punt by the Jets in Week 1. The defense itself has been responsible for 20 points per game.

But even that is more of the blame than the unit probably deserves, because circumstances continue to put Ryan's unit with its back against the wall, namely the Cowboys' turnover differential (-4).

So far this year, 10 of the 16 scoring drives by Cowboys opponents have been of less than 50 yards, three of those 10 being touchdowns in which the other team took over in Cowboys territory. Four times the other offense took over in Cowboys territory and settled for field goals.

On Sunday the Lions' offense had four scoring drives, with 10 points coming on drives that began on the Dallas side of the 50-yard line, not to mention the two interception returns.

It's plain as day to see. By protecting the ball better and winning field position battles in the kicking game, the Cowboys can rely on their defense to win games.

"Whatever situation or whatever the score is, we have to keep the pedal on," Sean Lee said. "We have to keep it going. That's the thing we have to get better at. No matter what the situation is, we have to play like they're ahead of us."

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