Third-Down Defense Changed Drastically

Looking back to Sunday's win over the 49ers, it's easy to remember Tony Romo's heroic effort, or Miles Austin's three touchdowns, or Jesse Holley's memorable catch or even the turnaround that rookie kicker Dan Bailey had from an early miss to his clutch kicks.

But let's not forget how the defense shored things up as well, particularly on third downs.

At halftime, the 49ers were a whopping 8 of 10 on third downs, and half of them were crossing and sidelines routes where San Francisco was picking on cornerback Alan Ball, who was working in the slot.

But not only did Ball get his revenge in the second half, but the entire defense stiffened on third downs as well, stopping the 49ers on all six third-down attempts in the second half.

"We just knew we had to get off the field," safety Gerald Sensabaugh said. "We didn't really change a lot. We mixed up a few things, but really we just knew we had to pick it up and give the ball back to our offense."

Linebacker Sean Lee, who turned in yet another stellar performance Sunday , said stopping the run and preventing more third-and-long situations aided to the Cowboys' second-half turnaround.

"I think we got them behind the sticks more in the second half," Lee said. "Early, we had some third-and-four, third-and-fives, but when you get them in third-and-eight and third-and-10 because you're stopping the run, you can play a little different defense. We did that in the second half and locked it down. We put them in a second-and-longs and third-and-10 and that's a hard down for them."

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