Cowboys can't rely on shorthanded defense

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys defense can't win games for this franchise right now. Injuries, new players at key positions and missed plays are some of the reasons.

It's asking too much of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to work magic.

The Cowboys' season rests with the offense and we'll see if it can carry the Cowboys into the postseason.

The defense has been hurting badly most of the season, but the Cowboys won in spite of it. At times, the defense has made big fourth-quarter plays -- a sack, interception or forced a turnover on downs -- to secure a victory.

Sunday, the injuries, ineffective play and too many new guys still trying to figure things out caught up to them. New Orleans won in overtime, 34-31, bringing the Cowboys' season down to a play-in game for the NFC East title next Sunday against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md.

When the Cowboys met the Redskins on Thanksgiving, the defense allowed 437 yards and gave up 28 second-quarter points in a 38-31 loss. When things settled down, the offense was stuck in catch-up mode.

The Cowboys are one loss away from their season ending. They lost control of the game to the Saints, who have an elite quarterback on their side. The Cowboys are missing too many players to compete with Drew Brees.

"We've been out of people," cornerback Mike Jenkins said. "We're running low. Injuries are killing us right now. So many new faces and it's kinda like everybody is out there trying to get themselves right. We have so many people playing so many different positions and somebody stepping up and playing another position, its kinda nerve racking."

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