Cowboys back up turnover talk
IRVING, Texas - Plenty of players were around when Dallas safety Barry Church scooped up a loose football and ran 27 yards untouched to the end zone.
Ball-hawking defense was stressed constantly in the offseason for the Cowboys - ever since Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli showed up in January preaching turnovers. It's a group effort.
Church's play in the third quarter of the season opener Sunday night against the New York Giants was followed by Brandon Carr's clinching 49-yard interception late in the fourth period of a 36-31 Dallas victory that included six New York turnovers.
Now the Cowboys have to work on stopping someone without a takeaway. Eli Manning kept the Giants close with 450 yards passing and four touchdowns. Dallas will shoot for its first 2-0 start since 2008 on Sunday at Kansas City.
"I think six [turnovers] was a lot, but we've been thinking about it," linebacker Sean Lee said. "We've been working at it nonstop. We have a lot of room to improve defensively. We gave up a lot of yards. We have to improve that."
It will be next to impossible to improve on turnovers. Or maybe not, given how much they were emphasized by Kiffin, the 73-year-old defensive coordinator, and sidekick Marinelli, who was defensive coordinator last year in Chicago when the Bears led the league with 44 takeaways.
Most of the players around Church on Sunday night must have thought the whistle blew, because they stood around as the ball bounced away from Giants running back David Wilson just before he hit the ground.
Church never stopped moving. It was just like another practice.
"I've never been in a drill just to take the ball away," said Church, who had his first career NFL touchdown. "Just take the ball away. Every play in practice we're trying to take the ball away, so it helped us in the offseason, and now it's transferring over to the season."