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Dallas Cowboys' pass rush is lacking

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' defense has been good at times this season but it needs improvement.

Overall, it ranks eighth in scoring defense (20.6) and is tied for 10th with 10 turnovers.

However, the Cowboys' pass rush, something that was a concern going into the season, is lacking.

The Cowboys have just five sacks, tied for 26th in the NFL and their blitz frequency on pass plays is among the lowest in the NFL. On third-down plays, the Cowboys have blitzed just four times, employing more defenders to drop back into coverage than rush the passer.

Dallas has blitzed more times on second down, 22 times, than any other down, this season.

The offseason additions of defensive tackle Henry Melton and Terrell McClain, who has been hampered by nagging injuries, and the absence of end Anthony Spencer, has hampered the pass rush somewhat.

The solid play of the linebackers, Rolando McClain and Justin Durant, have been considered a positive sign, likewise the secondary led by the safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox.

Yet, pressuring the pocket is the key to any defense's success.

"Obviously we haven't had huge sack numbers, but I do think we've affected the quarterback," coach Jason Garrett said. "I think that was the case a little bit (Sunday vs. Houston) as well. We didn't have the big dramatic losses, but we were around them, trying to make him feel uncomfortable. We use the word effect a lot, you got to effect the quarterback. You effect with individual pass rush, we effect with dogs and blitzes that you would bring. I think at different times we were able to do that, force (Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick) to hurry a throw, maybe throw from an uncomfortable position. I think we were able to do that throughout the game even though we didn't have the sacks."