ARLINGTON, Texas -- New Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, 73, has spent a lifetime believing that takeaways can be the result of habit, can be something within a team's control, and can be momentum-grabbing in their contagiousness.
Contagious? Yes. And his players are catching it.
"It needs to be habit if this defense is going to be great," middle linebacker Sean Lee said after Dallas' 24-18 home win over the Bengals in Saturday's dress-rehearsal preseason game featuring four Cowboys takeaways. "We need those turnovers. We practice it. 'Get the ball out.' That's big for us."
The Cowboys defense hasn't allowed a first-half TD through the four games of the preseason while also recording nine takeaways in the exhibition season and Kiffin's group, learning a new 4-3 Tampa-2 scheme, has done that despite the absence of stalwarts like cornerback Mo Claiborne and defensive lineman Anthony Spencer and Jay Ratliff.