Solid Defense Overall, But Run-Gashed Again

When a team is beaten as soundly as the Cowboys were in Philadelphia, a considerable concern is whether they have been "exposed." The NFL being a copycat league, there's a worry future opponents will attempt to replicate whatever it was that worked so well previously.

It's worth noting, then, that the Cowboys were the league's best run defense in terms of yards allowed per game heading into Week 8 at Philadelphia, when they gave up 235 yards to LeSean McCoy and Michael Vick. That down performance was followed up by 162 ground yards allowed to Seattle, which had been the NFL's second-worst rushing attack coming into Sunday.

Marshawn Lynch's 135 yards were a season-high, but not enough to beat the Cowboys, who allowed 381 yards of offense, but only 13 points, most importantly. Seahawks quarterback Tarvaris Jackson was only able to throw for 221 yards on 30 attempts, and tossed three interceptions.

"We just wanted to win the game," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "We gave up some big yardage and had some communication issues, but we made the change there and we are happy with the win. Can we play better? Sure we can, but I know one thing, we are happy with the win."

With a much stronger running team coming up in Buffalo, the Cowboys will have to fix their defensive issues quickly. They'll have to decide whether the main problem is their own errors, or whether teams have found a way to exploit their personnel and scheme.

"I think it's a little bit of both," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "They're scheming us, and they're putting us in vulnerable situations. The flash play, that's our nemesis, so we've just got to clean it up and know what to expect."

One problem which has persisted since early in the Eagles game is the absence of inside linebacker Sean Lee, perhaps the defense's MVP through the first half of the season. Veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking received extra playing time on Sunday with Lee inactive, and rookie Bruce Carter filled in on nickel downs in his first defensive action since coming off the Non-Football Injury list.

"I think our veterans played well," Ryan said. "(We) had a young guy who was excited, you know he was excited and he has a little bit to go, but this was training camp for him ... He's gonna be a heck of a player. He's just got to get up to speed, and you know that takes a while."

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