By Shawn S. Lealos

In their first game of the 2013 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys finished the game with three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns against the New York Giants. In 2012, Dallas intercepted a total of seven passes with nine fumble recoveries, making this year’s team much improved over the team that took the field last year under Rob Ryan.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 8:  DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys holds up the ball after recovering a fumble against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-36.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

DeMarcus Ware holds up a ball after a fumble recovery (Credit, Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The two defensive touchdowns were also one more than they recorded in 2012.

Of course, the big difference this season is Jerry Jones bringing in Monte Kiffin to replace Rob Ryan. Dallas switched from a 3-4 defense that used trick plays to blitz from all over the field to a straight forward 4-3 defense that relies on players to just man up and play one-on-one defense.

Brandon Carr, Will Allen and DeMarcus Ware were the three men who picked off Eli Manning in the season opening game. Carr, who led the team in interceptions in 2012 with three, recorded his second defensive touchdown of the last two years. Ware’s interception was only the second of his career, which was offset by the fact that he didn’t record a sack in the game.

Will Allen, in his first year with Dallas, hadn’t recorded an interception since 2005.

“I think six was a lot, but we’ve been thinking about it,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “We’ve been working at it non-stop. We have a lot of room to improve defensively. We gave up a lot of yards. We have to improve that.”

While the turnovers were great – and they are the reason Dallas won this football game – there are problems with the Cowboys defense. Dallas let Eli Manning throw the ball at will, completing 27 passes for an eye-popping 450 yards. He had four touchdowns – three to Victor Cruz – to go along with his interceptions. Three Giants receivers had 100-yard games.

Lucky for Dallas, the 73-year-old Kiffin has been around long enough not to praise his defense too much.

“And yet we shoulda played better,’’ Kiffin told the media. “You know, we just gave them some things.’’

Yes, Dallas nabbed the interceptions when it counted, but the New York Giants still had a chance, down by only five, when they tried an onside kick that went Dallas’ way. While the turnovers are nice, Dallas can’t let their opposition gain that many yards against them.

Of course, Dallas knows what it is like to throw for a lot of yards, as Romo had 423 passing yards in a loss last year to the Washington Redskins. One thing about leading big for most of the game is that the opposing quarterback has to throw the ball a lot. Possibly the 450 yards was due to the fact that Eli Manning and the New York Giants had to play catch up all game.

That is something new, since Dallas trailed at some point in all 16 games they played in 2012. It is pretty assured that the Dallas Cowboys won’t mind giving up 400 yards every game if they continue to get turnovers and lead by that many points throughout all their games.

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.