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Cowboys 36 - Giants 31: Turning Over A New Leaf On Defense

The Cowboys managed to hold on to win their first game of the 2013 season, but it was a fight. One statistic stands out like no other.

Ronald Martinez

Many times what you see in the preseason is a mirage, a sucker's bet that has fans believing things will be different this year. That could have been the case for the Dallas Cowboys who just barely managed to hold on for a 36-31 win over the New York Giants. Last year the Cowboys defense was awful in one telling statistic, one that more often than not determines the winners and the losers. Turnover margin. The Cowboys defense/special teams only managed 16 turnovers all year in 2012. That was supposed to change with the hiring of Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli and the move over to the 4-3 scheme. Kiffin/Marinelli teach that everybody on defense must fly to the ball and that turnovers are everything. In the preseason, we saw the Cowboys defense win the turnover margin convincingly. But that was preseason, the land of sucker's bets.

One game into the 2013 season, maybe the turnover margin isn't a mirage, maybe the teachings of Kiffin and Marinelli are taking hold - for real. The Cowboys managed to get five turnovers from their defense and one from the special teams. That's six turnovers in one game. That's over a third of the total they got in all of 2012. Here's the kicker, the defense scored two touchdowns on those turnovers. Barry Church ran a fumble back for six and Brandon Carr had a pick-six to seal the win.

Granted, the Cowboys as a team still have issues. For a team that was ahead in turnover margin by a +5, they sure did keep the game close. Every time they had a chance to step on the neck of the Giants, they let them back in the game. The pass defense still has some issues to clean up. The offense got it going later in the game but failed to put up points early when they could have blown the thing wide open. So it's not all roses and candy. Dallas has some warts to work on.

But for one night, the Dallas defense did just what the Cowboys coaches had taught them to do. They got turnovers, and in the process may have turned over a new leaf in 2013.

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