quarterback all the time. But we're also playing (the zone) better."
Really, all four interceptions against Peyton Manning last week were a result of the defenders being able to locate the ball and react. Orlando Scandrick basically baited a pick out of Manning and scored. The same thing happened on Sean Lee's first interception for a touchdown.
Alan Ball was in a single-safety deep zone and was able to pick off Manning in the first quarter, and then the play of the game, when Lee picked off Manning in overtime, it was Jenkins cheating back in the zone and deflecting the pass right to his teammate.
It's easy to tell guys to just play a zone, but there's a factor of discipline and understanding how to react that is required to be effective. And that's what we're seeing more and more.
Now that approach, in essence, is slowing the game down.
I thought that was evident just after Scandrick's interception for a touchdown to give Dallas a 17-0 edge very early in the second quarter. Trailing suddenly by 17 points, didn't we all think that Manning and the Colts would eventually drive this thing down and cut into the lead? And they did just that.
But the Cowboys made them work for all of it. In the Colts' 15-play, 86-yard drive, Manning completed 10 passes, but up until the 13-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon, none of the previous nine were more than eight yards.
Everything was short and Manning had no other choice but to go underneath. The running game wasn't much for the Colts all day long, but even on that drive there were only four rushes for 12 yards.
Once the Colts scored to close the lead to 10, there was just 6:03 left on the clock. Thought that was a key part in the game when you knew Indy wanted to get back in it, and it took so long to get there.
Now, fast forward to later in the game, the Colts didn't waste as much time to tie the score. The Cowboys were more in a prevent-style defense and I'm sure Manning's eyes just light up when he sees that.
Again, the defense hasn't been fixed. But the Cowboys have slowed down the process.
It's the same for the offense. The Cowboys are running the ball more, and showing more of a commitment to it. In the last four games, things have been simplified. You're seeing more running plays, even on second-and-eight or seven. What that does is give the Cowboys a more manageable chance to convert third downs.
Now the Cowboys were just 3 of 11 on third downs in the Giants game, but overcame that with big plays. Since then, though, Dallas has been much better, converting 51 percent of third-down chances.
Just in the last three games alone, the Cowboys have raised their third-down percentage from 39 percent to 51.
Obviously, you guys don't need me to tell you that running the ball keeps that clock moving and, of course, keeps the offense off the field.
What's been impressive is the Cowboys have slowed down the pace, but they're still averaging 33.25 points per game in their last four contests. And in the first half of the season, the only game in which they scored more than 27 was a 35-point effort against the Giants, when they scrambled to score twice in the final few minutes.
It's the offense. It's the defense.
Another case of less is more. And maybe a little bit of slowing down to get faster.