Brandon Carr gets defensive about Cowboys’ missing mojo on defense

The Dallas Cowboys are rolling on a 10-game win streak, the rookie stars are playing like veterans, and Dez Bryant even is allowing cooler heads to prevail.

There’s not much going wrong for America’s Team heading into Week 13. But if there’s room for improvement anywhere, it’s in the defense. Solid all season, the Cowboys’ defense has taken a small step back, failing to force a turnover for the past four weeks or record a sack last week when Washington’s Kirk Cousins threw 53 times against them.

Cornerback Brandon Carr got a little defensive when asked if the Cowboys defense has lost its mojo.

"Are you trying to take it from us?" Carr shot back Tuesday while talking to reporters. "I won’t let you get it. It’s cool. We got it. Don’t worry about it. We’ll be all right. Thanks for the concerns."

Carr insisted that "the objective of the game is to win the football game" and defended the Cowboys’ Thanksgiving Day performance: "I feel like we made crucial stops at those moments in the game when we needed to step up the most."

Owner Jerry Jones also put a positive spin on it, acknowledging "room for improvement" on his radio show Tuesday. But defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli called the Cowboys’ pass rush "not good enough" and coach Jason Garrett expanded that assessment to a couple other areas.

"We did some good things the last few weeks on defense. Having said that, too many explosive plays, too much yardage and cashing in on points late in the ballgame," Garrett told reporters. "Those are things we’ve done a better job of earlier on in the year, so we’ve got to make sure we get back to that."

Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins prepares to throw a pass under pressure from Dallas’ Tyrone Crawford, the Cowboys’ sacks leader with 3.5.

Michael Ainsworth / AP

The Cowboys defense had reached the top 10 statistically going into the Week 10 Pittsburgh game. But it has been sliding since then.

The takeaway drought comes a year after Dallas was the worst in the league in that category, then started this season by forcing at least one turnover in six of the first seven games. And now the Cowboys are coming off their first game without a sack.

The good news is that safety Barry Church, who’s been sidelined four games with a broken arm, is expected to be back Thursday at Minnesota, and Jones said he expects cornerback Morris Claiborne (groin injury) back before the end of the season.

"I feel like we were kind of beating ourselves on the big plays we let up," Church told reporters. "It’s very hard to drive on our defense 80 yards, just dinking and dunking all the way down there. If we can minimize those big plays that we’ve been giving up lately, we’ll have a lot better stat show."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.