IRVING, Texas (AP) — Monte Kiffin fields questions about the greatness of his Dallas defense one week, and how bad it is the next.
Brandon Carr goes from an elite cornerback befitting a $50 million contract to the guy who gave up 329 yards in one game to Detroit's Calvin Johnson.
It's a little hard to figure out what the Cowboys have on defense. They've won games with takeaways and flashes of dominance but now carry the distinction of the only unit in NFL history to allow four 400-yard passers in one year.
That's with half the season left, and Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers still to come.
"We've been on a roller coaster," said Kiffin, the 73-year-old defensive coordinator who replaced Rob Ryan and brought a scheme that was supposed to be a little more safe and sound. "Two pretty good games in a row and wanted to really get that third one. We'll come back. We have to do it."
The Cowboys had the Lions beat even though Matthew Stafford had already become the fourth quarterback on that dubious 400-yard list against Dallas, which had never allowed more than one in a season, according to STATS. But Stafford led an 80-yard drive in less than a minute with no timeouts, scoring himself on a 1-yard lunge with 12 seconds left in a 31-30 win.
Stafford finished with 488 yards passing, the most Dallas has ever allowed. This was one week after the Cowboys became the first road team since San Diego in 1984 to hold an opponent averaging at least 27 points a game to a field goal or less in a 17-3 victory against Philadelphia.
"You see these guys, these elite quarterbacks that are pretty much like coaches that can run the show and put guys in position to make plays, anything you do can be wrong because they always have an answer for it," Carr said. "It's a learning experience."
The Cowboys figure to get a one-week break in the passing game because Minnesota is bringing a messy quarterback situation to Texas, with coach Leslie Frazier saying Wednesday he was still undecided between previously benched Christian Ponder and Tampa Bay castoff Josh Freeman.