- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Monte Kiffin's defense has already matched a dubious NFL record.
The Dallas Cowboys are the fourth team in NFL history to allow three 400-yard passers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
It took the Cowboys only five games to accomplish this feat. Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns in the Cowboys’ Week 1 win over the New York Giants. Philip Rivers threw for 401 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Chargers to a Week 4 win over Dallas. And Peyton Manning threw for 414 yards and four scores in the Cowboys’ shootout loss Sunday to the Denver Broncos.
“Defensively, we were just terrible," straight-shooting linebacker Sean Lee said after Sunday's 51-48 loss to Denver. "There is no way around it. We were just terrible across the board. Fifty-one points -- unbelievable. We need to take a look at ourselves, visually and collectively and find a way because we let the team down.”
Not that it will cheer up Lee, but the list of teams who allowed three 400-yard passers is actually not bad company for the Cowboys. The 1986 New York Jets, the first team in NFL history to allow three 400-yard passers, went 10-6 and won a playoff game. The 2011 Green Bay Packers, who had the league’s highest-scoring offense, went 15-1 but got upset in their only playoff game. The 2012 New Orleans Saints are the black sheep of the bunch, finishing 7-9 and firing their defensive coordinator after setting an NFL record for yards allowed in a season.
The Saints happened to hire Rob Ryan, the defensive coordinator who was made the scapegoat for the Cowboys’ 8-8 campaign last season.
Like Kiffin’s Cowboys, Ryan’s Saints set a season high for points allowed Sunday. The 2-3 Cowboys gave up 51; the 5-0 Saints allowed 18.