'Sky's the limit' for Dallas defense

ARLINGTON, Texas – When is the last time the Dallas Cowboys’ defense played this well?

“I can’t recall when I’ve seen us play better. Ever,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said.

Gotta love some of that good ol’ Jerry hyperbole, huh?

It’s not like Jerry had to go all the way back to the '90s glory days to recall a time when Dallas played pretty darn good defense. How about the last time the Cowboys made the playoffs?

Then again, the 2009 season does seem like so long ago. That’s when the Cowboys closed out the regular season with the first consecutive shutouts in franchise history, clinching the NFC East division. Dallas allowed the second-fewest points in the league that season.

Not coincidentally, the Cowboys’ lone playoff win since 1996 came in 2009.

This might not be the best defense during the owner’s 25-year tenure, but the Cowboys have legitimate reasons to be confident that they have a playoff-caliber defense again.

Monte Kiffin's unit gave up a lot of yards in Week 1, but the defense forced five turnovers and keyed the Cowboys’ win over the Giants. The Cowboys held Kansas City to 17 points and 313 total yards in a losing effort in Week 2. And the defense was dominant in Sunday’s rout of the St. Louis Rams, holding Sam Bradford’s bunch to 232 total yards and seven points.

The Rams’ offensive line, which didn’t allow a sack in the first two games, couldn’t block the Cowboys. Dallas had six sacks, including two by DeMarcus Ware. That had a lot to do with St. Louis’ inability to convert on third down (1-of-13).

“It’s just one more step to trying to get where we want to go,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “We’re still trying to establish our identity.

“Just across the board, we want to be that physical, aggressive, high-energy defense. Everybody swarming, everybody getting to the ball, guys in the right position to make plays, just flying around and having fun. This is Week 3. We still have some more progress to go, but this is a step in the right direction.”

Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, who had a sack for the third straight game, added: “The sky’s the limit for this defense. We’ve just got to keep the bar high and work during the week.”