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Wednesday, June 27th 2018, 7:06am

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, Texas (AP) Sean Lee wasn’t on the field for
the crazy Kansas City play that threatened to ruin an otherwise strong
performance from the Dallas defense.

It turned out to be a microcosm of how important the 2016 All-Pro linebacker
is for the Cowboys, whose three-game winning streak coincides with Lee’s return
and a dramatic improvement on his side of the ball: fewer points, more
turnovers, more key stops.

”Boy, tremendous difference when Sean Lee is out there,” owner and general
manager Jerry Jones said after a 28-17 win over the Chiefs and their
third-ranked offense. ”Not to take anything away from anybody, but he makes
things happen.”
Article continues below ...
Lee missed two games with a hamstring injury Mike
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, and the Cowboys lost both at home
despite scoring at least 30 points in each.

Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams won 35-30, followed by Aaron Rodgers and
Green Bay 35-31 when Rodgers took the Packers 75 yards in 62 seconds after Dak
Prescott had guided the Cowboys to the lead with just 1:13 remaining.[img][/img]

The Cowboys (5-3) have allowed averages of 15 points and 299 yards during the
winning streak. They next visit Matt Ryan and NFC champion, albeit struggling,
Atlanta (4-4) on Sunday.

Then it’s the first of three straight home games in 12 days starting against
NFC East rival Philadelphia, the division leader, and Carson Wentz, who has an
NFL-best 23 touchdown passes. Dallas Authentic
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, the defending division champion, had the best
record in the NFC last season.

”We’re trying to build to be that championship defense,” said Lee, the
playmaking weakside linebacker . ”And we’re seeing signs of it. But until we’re
there, until we’re causing more turnovers and dominating, we’re going to
continue to work.”

Dallas had gone three full games without a turnover when Lee returned against
San Francisco and the defense forced three fumbles, recovering two. The Cowboys
recovered another one on special teams.

Byron Jones had a clinching interception in the final minute of a win at
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, and the Cowboys forced Alex Smith’s first
interception of the season to end Kansas City’s last realistic hope Sunday.

Lee was watching when the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill took an underneath throw on the
final play of the first half and weaved through seven Dallas defenders inside
the 25 for an improbable 56-yard touchdown.

The Cowboys gave up another touchdown and lost the lead on the first
possession after halftime before Lee’s unit re-established control with a key
stop between two long scoring drives for Dallas.

The eighth-year player was on the field, though, when Kansas City took the
lead with a touchdown to start the second half. After Dallas retook the lead,
Lee’s unit forced a quick punt that helped the Cowboys regain the control it
looked like they had lost with Hill’s TD.

”He’s always around the ball in the running game and the passing game,” coach
Jason Garrett said. ”But his impact goes far beyond that. There’s an intensity
he brings that also pervades the defense.”

The Cowboys had to rely too heavily on Jaylon Smith while Lee was hurt. Smith
missed his entire rookie season recovering from a devastating college knee
injury, and has struggled adjusting to the NFL game.

Dallas also benefited from the return of middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens,
who injured a knee in the preseason. With Hitchens and Lee available alongside
Damien Wilson Patrick
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, Smith has had a season-low 17 snaps in
consecutive games.

More experience helped the Cowboys limit the big-play capability of the
Chiefs – except for Hill’s stunner with the Cowboys set up to defend a
traditional desperation pass.

”If you look at the last three games, the sacks, the turnovers, the plays on
the football, they’ve been way up,” Lee said. ”In this defense, an attacking
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, you have to make those plays.”

The Cowboys make more of them when Lee’s on the field.

NOTES: DT Brian Price will have season-ending knee surgery after getting
injured in the second half against the Chiefs. … WR Dez Bryant has ankle and
knee issues and WR Terrance Williams is dealing with an ankle injury after a
season-high 141 yards receiving. Garrett said they are day to day along with LT
Tyron Smith, who left the Kansas City game late with a groin injury.

More AP NFL: and
. Atlanta
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, Tampa
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, New York
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, Cincinnati Bengals
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