Rare Three Interception Game Helps Cowboys Top Bucs 26-20

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Jeff Heath returns his fourth quarter interception off of Tampa’s Jameis Winston in Dallas’ 26-20 victory over Tampa Bay last night.

Last night for the first time since October of 2013, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense intercepted at least three passes in a game.  The interceptions by Byron Jones, Jeff Heath and Orlando Scandrick helped the Cowboys bounce back from last weekend’s loss in New York to the Giants with a 26-20 victory that moved the team a step closer to winning the NFC East and capturing the top seed in the upcoming NFC playoffs.

Dallas last three interception effort came on October 20, 2013 at Lincoln Financial Field against Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles.  Brandon Carr, Barry Church and Sean Lee each had a pick against Foles in Dallas’ 17-3 victory.  Since that date 29 of the 31 other teams in the NFL have had at least one game with three or more interceptions, with many having multiple such contests:

MOST THREE OR MORE INTERCEPTION GAMES SINCE 10/20/13

Cincinnati Bengals      8

Tampa Bay Bucs           7

Buffalo Bills                   6

NY Giants                       6

Seattle Seahawks         6

The two teams with longer droughts than the Cowboys are the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Oakland Raiders.  Oakland’s last three interception game came on October 6, 2013 against San Diego.  For Jacksonville, you have to go all the way back to December of 2011 when the Jags had three picks against Tampa Bay.

Other interception related notes coming out of last night’s win:

Cowboys’ backup safety Jeff Heath has four career interceptions, with three of them coming against Winston and Tampa Bay. Last year at Tampa in a heart-breaking loss to the Bucs, Heath had two interceptions off of the then rookie quarterback.

Scandrick’s last interception prior to last night was in December of 2014 against Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears in a 41-28 Dallas victory.

The Cowboys’ record for most three plus interception games in a single season is seven, set in 1961 and matched in 1981 and 1985.  The Cowboys are 109-14 in games where they’ve had at least three interceptions.

The most interceptions in a game in Cowboys’ history came in week two of Dallas’ first Super Bowl Championship winning years in 1971.  In a 42-7 rout of the Eagles in Philadelphia, Dallas intercepted seven passes with veteran cornerback Herb Adderly setting a team record (which was later tied by Lee Roy Jordan, Dennis Thurman and Terence Newman) with three of his own. Cornell Green, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro and Charlie Waters also had interceptions in the easy win.

OTHER NOTES

Dallas’ 12 victory marked the 12th time in team history that the Cowboys have won at least that many games.  The 2016 squad has a chance to beat or tie the franchise record of 13 wins in a season, set by the 1992 Super Bowl Championship team and tied in 2007.  Four of the Cowboys’ five Super Bowl winning teams had at least 12 wins in a year, with the only exception being the 1971 squad that won 11 in a 14 game regular season.

The Cowboys’ 449 yards of total offense was the team’s second highest total of the year (Dallas gained 460 against Philadelphia on October 30th in its 29-23 overtime win), and the team record setting ninth of the season.  The 2009 and 2012 Cowboys’ teams had eight 400 yard plus games.

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