By Bedlam's end, the numbers assigned to Oklahoma State's defense disappointed.
*588 total yards.
*468 passing yards surrendered (an OU record-tying total).
Yet after our weekly film study session, we're here in defense of the defense.
Bottom line: the offense's hit-and-miss struggles overtaxed the defense, contributing heavily to the ugly numbers and two late backbreaking big plays by the Sooners.
Yes, the Cowboys D could have helped itself getting off the field, especially on third down. But it was a weary defensive unit trying to survive, which it did for much of the game, while waiting for the offense to fire.
Consider: In the first half, the Cowboys defense forced three punts, yet faced a staggering 60 plays (OSU ran 66 for the game), as the offense managed but six first downs and committed two turnovers. One interception set up OU at the Cowboys 30 and led to a touchdown. The OSU defense provided three interceptions of Landry Jones, yet the Cowboys would manage but 17 first-half points.
In the second half, the OSU defense shut out the Sooners in the third quarter, then held them to three field goals inside the 4-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, offensively, after an opening second-half drive to a touchdown, the Cowboys went three-and-out and tossed an interception before a wild final flurry.
Of the Cowboys' 41 points, 14 came on a defensive touchdown and a kickoff return for a score.
The OSU defense draws focus for the two late big plays: an 86-yard scoring pass on a third-and-12 play and a 76-yard scoring pass on second-and-7; two plays that tacked 162 yards on to OU's total.
On the first, OU's Cameron Kenney spun Cowboys cornerback Brodrick Brown on a post route with safety help late to arrive.
â€œIt was a situation where a guy ran a post route on us and we were getting back and worn out and the guy ran by us,â€ said Cowboys defensive coordinator Bill Young.
On the second, credit OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson with a bold call, going to the air when logic says run the ball and the clock. With the Cowboys focused on the ground game, Hanna shifted from the left side to the right, then went back in motion to the left, before running past everyone.
The Cowboys' defense battled cramping problems and fatigue and eventually lost a step or more.
â€œIt was an interesting game in that they didn't really play that bad,â€ Mike Gundy said of his defense. â€œWe put them in a terrible situation, over and over and over.
â€œWe just couldn't get in a rhythm or tempo on offense and the defense just kept getting put out there. Fatigue may have played a role in that. It all just kind of piled up.â€
Justin Blackmon maintained his incredible streak of 11 straight games with at least 100 receiving yards and a touchdown on a bum ankle.
But mostly, Blackmon showed his toughness, repeatedly shaking off significant pain from his high ankle sprain to return to the field.
He wasn't himself, not hardly, with his signature moves and speed after the catch absent. Still, he finished with eight receptions and 105 yards and a score.
Play of the Game
Maybe the play of the year, and worthy of ESPY consideration, Brown leapt into the OU bench to corral an errant Jones throw and fling it back into play, where Shaun Lewis waited for his second interception.
It was a show of freakish athletic ability and football awareness.
Screen door slammed
The screen pass to running backs, which had become a staple for the Cowboys in recent weeks, produced little as the Sooners shut them off with their speed.
Joseph Randle and Kendall Hunter combined for three receptions for 10 yards.
Justin Gilbert has officially arrived as a return threat, taking a kickoff the distance for the second time in three games against the Sooners.
Gilbert energized the crowd with an 89-yard burst for a score that answered one of OU's late long touchdowns and returned hope to the rally.
His elite speed was on clear display as he blew through a lane up the middle, using a shake move to leave kicker Tress Way helpless as the last line of defense.