ARLINGTON, Texas —
All of a sudden the Cowboys are getting a chance to see how the other half in the NFL lives when it comes to turnovers, and they’ve managed to win consecutive games for the first time since September of last season.
"It’s amazing, especially that special teams one early, that was the one that got us going,” said defensive back Jourdan Lewis. "You could feel the energy and momentum shifting our way."
That kind of energy was foreign to the Cowboys until the last couple of weeks. The Cowboys had been dead-last in the league in turnover differential, but no more. Seven takeaways the last two weeks with no giveaways.
In the first quarter against San Francisco, the Cowboys recovered a fumble on a punt return. Then on the 49ers' next possession, Demarcus Lawrence forced a fumble on a sack of quarterback Nick Mullens and Aldon Smith recovered it.
The Cowboys cashed both miscues into touchdowns to set the tone for the day.
"To get it early, you could see it brought a lot of energy to our sideline,” said Head Coach Mike McCarthy. "Guys are feeding off one another. That’s two weeks in a row.”
"You practice the fundamentals and you practice the way you want to play, soon enough it’ll come to life. This is the ’turn the corner’ for us,” said Lawrence. "It’s all about staying healthy and keep attacking the ball."
The Cowboys turnover turnaround has been remarkable.
Through the first 12 games of the season, they averaged less than one forced turnover per game; it was 11 in that span. Now, Cowboys defenders say they’re excited to finally see their hard work pay dividends.
"We’re starting to step up to the plate and living up to our expectations. And when you’re playing football, it always starts with the ball,” said Lawrence.
Granted, this surge in takeaway activity is against suspect competition: San Francisco has kept a streak intact of eight straight games with multiple giveaways.
But the Cowboys' recent takeaways are showing up where it counts most-- on the scoreboard. Forty-one points off turnovers in the last two weeks. That’s more than the 12 weeks prior. And the 24 points off turnovers this Sunday was the difference in the game.
"We just found the ingredients these last few games and we’re sticking with it,” said Lewis. "We’re playing some good ball right now."
It’s easy to dismiss their recent success as classically too little, too late and inferior competition.
But Cowboy defenders say this turnaround is more about themselves… and they’ve got a couple more weeks to prove it’s sustainable.
"I feel like every guy on this team is looking in the mirror and they’re going to work against themselves,” according to Lawrence. "They're not worried about the next man or their opponent, and that’s how I feel we’re getting better."
Now we’ll see if they can keep it up.