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Dan Quinn 'Audio Adversity': Cowboys Coach Reveals Headset Malfunction vs. Bengals

After Dan Quinn's communication to the helmet stopped working late in the fourth against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dallas Cowboys defense had to rely on their experience to make a third-down stop.

Even with an early playoff exit, the league likely remembers just how good the defense of the Dallas Cowboys was last season. It doesn't get much better than boasting a league-best 34 takeaways, the league's interceptions leaders, and the 2021 Defensive Rookie of the year. 

Yet this year's unit - through two games of strong play - could be better than the one that took the league by storm last season. 

Ask coordinator Dan Quinn, and he may not be ready to make such claims just yet. But he wasn't hesitant in pointing that the mental strength and on-the-spot thinking of his unit is far ahead of what it was last year after Sunday's 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium. 

This came down to what was the defensive play of the game. 

Right before the clutch third-down tackle cornerback Trevon Diggs made on Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd to halt Cincinnati's potential game-winning drive and ultimately give Dallas the ball back with a minute left, Quinn said that the defense - and most of both coaching staffs for that matter - experienced some not-so-timely headset malfunctions that made communication difficult from Quinn's spot up in the booth.

"Kind of like a good little adversity moment," Quinn said. "Hey, this is going to happen some ... In the moment it feels stressful, but knowing that you've been through those it kind of speaks to being together for a longer period of time and I would say last year at this moment, we would not have been able to execute it that quickly."

Quinn said before Diggs' stop that he could see Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow going toward the sideline to get the play call from coach Zac Taylor, making it obvious that the issue was stadium-wide.

Per Quinn, it was nearly a waste of home-field advantage.

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"On that third-down play the headsets went off ... I'm sure it was out for both sides, otherwise our home-field advantage would really be sh***," Quinn said. "My communication to the helmet got clicked off ... Players, coaches, everybody's kind of all hands-on-deck at that point. It was the right the call." 

The Cowboys defense had halted a potent Cincinnati offense - one that was a drive away from winning Super Bowl LVI in February - for most of the afternoon. A minor headset mishap wasn't going to be far from the reason that all that went to waste with a continued drive by the Bengals. 

Through the first two weeks, Dallas is one of five teams (Denver, Buffalo, San Francisco, Tampa Bay) to hold its first two opponents to under 20 points. The Cowboys lost 19-3 to the Buccaneers in Week 1, but it'd be hard-pressed to say that the defense didn't do its part. 

After holding two elite offenses to minimal production, Dallas could certainly be on track to make this a three-game streak in Week 3. The Cowboys take on the New York Giants (2-0) for their first road game of the season on Monday Night Football. 

You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7

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