Can Cowboys keep holding opponents to under 20 points? Micah Parsons says fewer

Dallas’ defense has held each of its first four opponents under 20 points for the first time since 1973.

ARLINGTON – Despite a brace protruding from Dak Prescott’s right sleeve Sunday and a lack of evidence suggesting his bones heal faster than those of mere mortals, reports continue to hint he could be back sooner than later. Maybe as early as next Sunday in Los Angeles. Far be it from yours truly to question anyone’s sources, but, when Jerry Jones was asked after the Cowboys’ 25-10 win over Washington how well Dak is throwing the ball in practice, he said he wouldn’t exactly call it throwing.

Which tells me that, unless Jerry thought the question was about the Rangers’ pitching, Dak probably won’t play against the Rams.

And, frankly, the status quo on offense would be just fine as long as it also applies to the arc of Dan Quinn’s defense, which, in front of 92,946 at JerryWorld, continued a streak in which it has held each of its first four opponents under 20 points for the first time since 1973, the heyday of the Doomsday Defense.

How much better can this version get?

“Last week we gave up 16,” said Micah Parsons, the maestro. “This week was 10.

“Next week?


Probably best to tap the brakes here to note that Matthew Stafford and the Rams constitute a far stiffer test than Carson Wentz and the Commanders, who must have lost their luggage en route to D-FW. Only explanation for what looked like stock uniforms from Academy.

Wentz -- as in wince, as in the expression induced while watching him in a pocket these days -- took another step Sunday toward the exit from a league he once looked to dominate.

Quinn’s unit hastened Wentz’s imminent departure by sacking him twice, hitting him another 11 times and picking off two of his passes. He finished 25 of 42 for 170 yards and a 56.6 rating, which seemed kind, at that. He was so spooked, he was called twice for intentional grounding, surely some sort of record.

DeMarcus Lawrence seemed almost sorry for him.

“If you were the quarterback,” he told a reporter, “you’d be frazzled, too.”

The Cowboys’ defense made up for the fact that the offense looked pedestrian at best as Cooper Rush and company weren’t able to pile up as many yards (279) as the Commanders (297). Not that it mattered with the field position the Cowboys enjoyed. The defense was so good, it even bailed out John Fassel’s special teams.

Early in the fourth quarter, Bryan Anger, a Pro Bowl punter, shanked a 22-yarder off the right side of his foot that gave the Commanders possession at Dallas’ 30 and an opportunity to change the momentum in a 12-point game. Except Dante Fowler’s sack forced a fourth-and-10 from the 11, at which point Wentz threw to the back left corner for Terry McLaurin, who was briefly open. But Trevon Diggs, whose closing speed ranks among the league’s fastest, recovered in time to bat the ball away. Crisis averted.

Diggs also came up with his second interception in two weeks to creep closer to the pace that culminated last year with a total of 11. The difference now is Quinn’s defense doesn’t rely on just Diggs or Parsons or a handful of other obvious talents. DaRon Bland, the rookie, broke on a Wentz pass to register the Cowboys’ other pick. Parsons had four tackles but only one for a loss on an otherwise quiet afternoon. But nine players recorded at least one quarterback hit.

Because of Will McClay’s draft work, the Cowboys have assembled their best front seven in years. Asked if the defense tops any he’s played on in his nine seasons in Dallas, Lawrence said, “I mean, the stats speak for themselves. You know, we’ve got talent all over the place.

“I’d say yes, it is.”

Let me up the ante here: I’d say it’s the makings of the Cowboys’ best defense in decades. The front seven in the Jimmy Johnson era was largely a no-name group that reached another level after the addition of Charles Haley. Quinn may have more talent to work with overall.

“We’re taking away things that people want to do,” Parsons said. “We’re making people minimize their game plan.

“It’s not just one guy. I think we’ve got a load of guys who can make the play.”

Of course, it helps the cause when the other team is committing 11 penalties for 136 yards and thus continually behind the sticks. For that matter, the Cowboys’ run defense could still use a little work after giving up 142 yards Sunday at 5.3 yards a pop. And, in the interests of full disclosure, scoring is down across the league. Going into Sunday’s game, teams were scoring at a clip of 21 points a game, the fewest since 2010. The advent of the two-high safety has flustered quarterbacks so much that they’re settling for underneath throws, costing points in the process.

One last thing: After the Cowboys held those first four opponents in ‘73 under 20 points apiece, they gave up 37 in a Game 5 loss to the Rams, no less. But enough with the caveats. The Cowboys are 3-1 despite the absence of their QB1 because of a defense unlike any we’ve seen since Jimmy left in a huff. Given how this season started, who’d have thought we’d conjure that image now?

Twitter: @KSherringtonDMN

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