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Takeaways Finally Fall Into Place For Defense


ARLINGTON, Texas – Not a day goes by that Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli doesn't preach, and drill, forcing turnovers.

Six games into the season, they're finally starting to pile up for Marinelli's group.

Two second-half takeaways – an interception by safety Jeff Heath and a fumble recovery by cornerback Jourdan Lewis – led to 10 Cowboys points in Sunday's 40-7 blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at AT&T Stadium.

"A real team effort," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "Everybody playing off each other and complementary football throughout."

The Jaguars entered Sunday with a reputation as a takeaway machine. Since 2017, counting playoffs, no team has scored more defensive touchdowns than Jacksonville's nine.

The Cowboys' defense has shown flashes of dominance themselves. Through five games they ranked fifth in scoring defense, allowing only 19.2 points per game. The missing ingredient has been turning over teams with consistency and giving extra possessions to their offense, which entered Sunday averaging only 16.6 points per contest.

In the last two games, the defense has doubled their takeaway total from the first four games combined: two each against the Texans and Jaguars.

With no turnovers from quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense, the Cowboys are now back to an even turnover margin for the season.

The plays from Heath and Lewis came on back-to-back possessions bridging the third and fourth quarters. Suddenly, a 27-7 score had swelled to an insurmountable 37-7 deficit for Jacksonville.

Linebacker Jaylon Smith poked the ball free from Jaguars receiver Keelan Cole, giving Lewis a chance to scoop it up near the sideline.

"It's an incredible thing," Smith said. "When you talk about energy and momentum, that's what this game is based on, and we were able to do that today."