Football has often been referred to as the ultimate team sport.
On Monday Night Football, the Washington Redskins will need to play as a team if they hope to defeat one the NFL's strongest team defenses in the Dallas Cowboys.
Sitting atop the NFC East, the Cowboys allow an average of 21 points per game, tying them for ninth-fewest in the league in that category while also giving up just 343.9 yards per game.
"They're obviously 6-1, a great football team," said Colt McCoy, who is likely to make his first start for the Redskins on Monday. "We're going to have to bring our best game to Dallas on Monday night."
Led by free safety Barry Church with 41 tackles, the Cowboys also have linebackers Justin Durant (39) and Rolando McClain (31) with at least 30 tackles. Although Dallas lacks in making plays in the backfield – with just six sacks and 11 tackles for loss so far – Redskins tight end Logan Paulsen said their NFC East rival plays solid, team defense overall.
"They got some good guys. They play really hard," Paulsen said. "They don't have anybody that really stands out, but as a group, the parts make the whole."
In his second season at the helm of the Cowboys' defense, coordinator Rod Marinelli has been reunited with and Monte Kiffin to run a cover-two scheme in Dallas. While traditionally it's been a cornerstone for their defense, Paulsen said he's noticed a mix-up in recent weeks.
"He doesn't do it as much as he used to, because I thought the same thing," Paulsen said. "Then you watch them and it's like 'Oh, this is not what he's traditionally done.'"
According to Paulsen, Dallas is showing a tendency to play more like the defending Super Bowl champions on defense – a team the Redskins have already faced once this season.
They're really efficient and kind of like Seattle," he said. "They don't do a lot of stuff, but what they do do, they're really good at."
When the Seahawks visited FedExField earlier this month, Washington's offense was able to have some success. Generating 307 yards of total offense, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for 283 yards and two scores that night, including a 60-yard strike to DeSean Jackson.
The Cowboys are quite active in their secondary, where they have 38 pass deflections and seven interceptions. But on Monday night, Paulsen believes that is one area where Washington – averaging 290-yards passing per game – could have some success.
"They do some things in terms of how they play the seam routes," he said. "It's a defense like Seattle's and so there are opportunities there like with any defense and so we'll see how it goes."
Another opportunity could lie within the running game. With Dallas giving up 113.4 yards per game on the ground, that's another area the Redskins – who average 99.4 rushing yards per game – hope to exploit.
In years past, they've had success doing just that. In their last four meetings, the Redskins have rushed for 739 yards and seven touchdowns.
Whether by ground or by air, the Redskins have a tough task in defeating the Dallas defense. After watching hours of film, Paulsen is confident in his team and feels that it comes down to one simple thing: execution.
"We just have to make sure that we're executing at a high level and better than they're executing what they do," he said. "I think we have the guys to do that and I think we can get that done."