Jason Garrett's changes made one big impact on the game Sunday. An impact that seems to have been a bit lost in the exuberance of a win, the play of Dez Bryant, the performance of Felix Jones, and the electrical wires of a clearly inferior 'stagium'.
In 2008, starting their first game without Tony Romo the defense lost its heart early and let the pathetic St. Louis Rams, who would win only 2 games that season, put up 34 points on us -- they quit. Two games later when Brad Johnson's play gave them a reason to quit, they let the New York Giants put up 35 points on us including the infamous Mike Jenkins wiff on Brandon Jacobs. In 2009 when DeMarcus Ware was carted off the field against San Diego the defense immediately gave up a 2-play 70-yard touchdown drive to the Chargers that put a fork in that game - they quit. In 2010 when this team went on a losing skid its defense absolutely quit. The offense kept trying in a futile effort, but the defense gave up.
In the Wade Phillips era, this defense had no heart. When they were given a reason to quit, a reason to feel sorry for themselves because a key member of the team was injured, they would throw up their hands and quit.
Last night, with Terrence Newman and Mike Jenkins out of the game, they had every reason to quit. Undrafted rookie Brian McCann facing off against Hakeem Nicks in his first NFL game backed up by horrible safety Alan Ball. They had every reason to lose their heart and quit. But they didn't. They kept fighting and they fought hard. Defenders flew to the ball, linebackers and defensive backs hit with reckless abandon, and I'll be damned if the secondary didn't actually force turnovers.
Just like their notoriously excuse-making coach, this defense used to be okay with taking an excuse to lose a game. On Sunday, they were given every excuse to give up -- but instead stood tall and took it to the Giants.
That's the biggest change we've seen from this team in the Jason Garrett era.