ARLINGTON, Texas _ Just another day at the office for the Tennessee Titans defense.
They gave up a 406-yard passing day to Tony Romo, allowed Felix Jones 109 yards on just 15 carries, and had Miles Austin burn them for 166 yards and a 69-yard TD among his nine catches.
Oh, and by the way, they pulled in three interceptions, had six sacks and actually played a key role in the Titans' 34-27 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Sunday marked the third straight game, the Titans have surrendered at least a 300-yard passing game, and also marked the third straight week an opposing offense was on the field for more than 70 plays.
But, save for a fourth-quarter collapse last week against Denver, the Titans are somehow getting the job done.
“That's a bend-but-don't break kind of defense,” cornerback Cortland Finnegan said. “This league is built on making plays offensively, even with the five-yard rule. A lot of times you look at film, and you assess it, plays you've given up that you're a little upset about, but at the same time, it's a bend-but-don't break mentality.”
Sunday's performance won't put the Titans near the top in any statistical categories defensively, but the Titans will take the win and not measure at all how ugly it might look on a stat sheet.
The three turnovers were key in the game, as the Titans choked off one Cowboys drive with a Michael Griffin interception in the end zone, an Alterraun Verner pick that he returned to the 1-yard line, and finally linebacker Stephen Tulloch's interception that finally killed off the Cowboys.
“We took advantage of the turnovers and created plays off the turnovers, and it was just a heck of a day,” Tulloch said.
Added Griffin, “I think that's something we've been doing good all season. A lot of teams move the ball, but we get in that red zone and we're preventing scores.”
The pressure up front did enough to help force many of the mistakes, as the Cowboys had only given up one sack before Sunday, but allowed Tennessee to sack Romo six times. It was the Titans' second straight week with a half dozen sacks. Jason Jones and Jason Babin had two each for the Titans.
“We got after the quarterback,” end Dave Ball said. “All week they talked about that he hadn't been touched in 128 straight throws, but we rushed the way we rush and we got him a lot today. We got six sacks, and a bunch of hurries and a bunch of hits.”
Defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil was happy that his unit had weathered the storm from the Cowboys on Sunday and escaped with a victory.
“It's kind of give and take. We gave up a lot of big plays, but then we made some big plays,” Cecil said. “In this league and this game, it's all about making plays at the right time. They had plenty of theirs. I've been saying it all week. Talent-wise, that's the best offense you're gonna see in the league, and they kind of proved that correct.
“The bottom line at the end of the day is to try and keep them out of the end zone, making them kick field goals and have more points than them when the game is over.”
As part of that, the Titans were far removed from their usual philosophy of winning with time of possession. Dallas held the ball for 36:44 and the Titans owned the football for just 8:52 in the second half. Cecil said his unit won't use that excuse despite the extra work over the past several weeks.
“There's not a guy on our defense that will talk about tired. That does not equate, and that's not an excuse. You don't even think about tired. When your number is called, you're supposed to be out on the field and ready to make a play,” Cecil said.