IRVING, Texas -- The bones of Rod Marinelli’s defense is a four-man defensive line, but it was a three-man look that gave the New England Patriots trouble Sunday.
Tom Brady was sacked five times in the first half. The last time that happened was in 2001, Brady’s first year as the Patriots’ starter.
The Cowboys opened with DeMarcus Lawrence and Greg Hardy at defensive end and Tyrone Crawford at defensive tackle. Linebackers Rolando McClain and Sean Lee plugged the gaps between Crawford and the ends.
“For a number of different reasons we wanted to play that style, our personnel against their personnel,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We tried to create some matchups up front and on the back end. I think it was effective for us... We won some one-on-ones. One of the biggest things we needed to do in this game was try to affect the quarterback and try to hit him. He’s a really good quarterback and has been for a long time. When teams have had moderate success against them is when they’ve affected him. We tried to do that. Give him a tremendous amount of credit because he did get hit a lot in the ballgame.”
The Cowboys used the same look in the second half and Brady was not sacked. He threw both of his touchdown passes. He completed 10-of-11 passes for 175 yards.
So was it more a gimmick that worked for a half or something the Cowboys plan to use going forward?
“You know, most teams don't pass as much as the Patriots, so we just prepared for them,” defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. “I think the front is a wonderful front. It's genius, honestly. It causes a lot of disruption and I think we can build off of it and it's something we'll be able to use down the line."