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The Sports Xchange, Published October 31 2013

Where's the D in Dallas? Cowboys defense struggling with Vikings up next

IRVING, Texas - The Dallas Cowboys have the worst defense in the league. They are 4-4 and ranked 32nd on defense, on pace to set a team record for yards allowed and an NFL record for passing yards allowed.

So, perhaps it is a good thing they have the Minnesota Vikings (1-7) on tap Sunday at Cowboys Stadium.

The Vikings have the league's 27th ranked pass offense and still don't know whom to start between Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman.

"It doesn't really matter who is going to be starting at quarterback, I don't really care who is starting at quarterback, I'm just trying to go out and win the game," cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. "Winning cures all. If we can get a win, we'll have a little bit more positivity."

The Cowboys need something positive on defense.

The Cowboys' defense has allowed an average of 422.5 yards a game, which projects to 6,760 yards for the season. That would be a team record and one of the worst in NFL history. They're also on pace to give up 5,062 passing yards, which would set an NFL record.

"Oh, yeah, I definitely pay attention to it," safety Barry Church said. "(Being ranked 32nd) is pretty bad, but it can't get much worse, so we've definitely got to build on that."

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said they need to be better on defense but he also wanted to accentuate the positive in that they are creating turnovers as well as any team in the league.

They are second in turnover ratio in the NFL at plus-9, and tied for third with 19 takeaways in eight games. They had just 16 turnovers all of last season.

"Before you get caught up in certain statistics, you've got to evaluate the whole body of work," Garrett said. "There are a lot of different ways to measure how a defense is doing. One of the ways that we measure it is in relationship to the football. We're No. 2 in the NFL in takeaways right now and those are the impact plays of the ballgame.

"Having said that, we've faced some good passers and they've gotten after us a little bit. We have to do a better job playing pass defense."

Four quarterbacks -- Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford -- have each thrown for more than 400 yards against the Cowboys. That's a dubious mark considering it's the first time in NFL history a team has allowed four 400-yard passers in a season.

The Cowboys still have eight games to go and the likes of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Eli Manning coming up on the their schedule.

The Cowboys believe they will get better as the season goes along as some of the young and experience players they have relied on -- including rookie safeties J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath and rookie cornerback B.W. Webb -- get more experience and some of their veterans return to health.

They played the last two games without Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Ware.

"One thing I'll say about this defense is they won't quit," maligned defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "We'll get better. We will."

Notes: The Cowboys still lead the woeful NFC East by one game. The division is a combined 11-20

"I am very disappointed," owner Jerry Jones said. "I take no solace that our losses... were by five points or less (actually nine or less). We've got to keep our eye on what we're doing, of course, this Sunday, but we've got to keep our eye on continuing to win games. This thing is going to come down to the end, and you could have a situation like Baltimore did last year. They didn't look like they were it. They weren't playing very well. We missed beating them by a 6-inch field goal, to refresh our memory, and they end up in the world championship. We're continuing to have some injury that will impact that, too. But we've just got to keep dealing with what we're dealing with.

"I want to be very positive, though. We're sitting here with probably as good a chance, although we're absent some players - but other teams are too - we're sitting here with as good a chance to be where we want to be as we did when we started the season."