The Dallas Cowboys had few positives coming out of a 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, especially on defense.
The Broncos ran all over the Cowboys for 178 yards. Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw four touchdown passes. The Broncos converted all eight of their third downs in the first half.
But a silver lining may be linebacker Jaylon Smith. Nobody on the defense had a great game, but Smith was credited with a team-leading 14 tackles by the coaching staff and played 68 of the 77 defensive snaps.
“I thought Jaylon Smith really did well considering this is his second NFL ballgame,” owner Jerry Jones said after the game. “I don’t know his tackles, his numbers, but he stood out.”
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Smith addressed the defense’s struggles after the game. Broncos running back C.J. Anderson had his best rushing game since 2014 with 118 yards, and Siemian had a passer rating of at least 100 (116.0) for the fourth time in his young career.
“It was us,” Smith said. “We weren’t doing our jobs. As a defense, you have to play collectively and when we do that we’re successful. But when you don’t all it takes is one person to mess up and it creates havoc. We knew we were going against a great team.”
But Smith’s return to the field continues to be a feel-good story for the Cowboys, and his production is noteworthy.
Through two games, Smith leads the team in tackles with 23. That’s an impressive feat considering Smith missed all of last season recovering from a severe knee injury he sustained in his final game at Notre Dame.
Smith was credited with nine tackles and played 35 defensive snaps in the season-opening win over the New York Giants.
Linebacker Sean Lee is second in tackles with 21. Next is safety Jeff Heath with 10.
“The NFL is a week-to-week basis,” Smith said after Sunday’s game in Denver. “The history of it is written each and every week. When you lose you have to really evaluate what you did wrong and what you can do better. That goes for when you win as well. How can you continue to get better?
“There’s a lot of things out there that we can do better, so we will.”