No names help Monte Kiffin get his revenge

Posted Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Monte Kiffin’s defense was 59 points better this season than last against Chip Kelly’s offense.

The Cowboys’defensive coordinator had a smile on his face as he left Lincoln Financial Field, but he wasn’t gloating.

“He’s a great coach. He really is,” Kiffin said of Kelly. “There’s no doubt about it. Sometimes you get them; sometimes they get you. He got us pretty good at Southern Cal. We did get him one year when we were up at Oregon, but even that was a 38-35 game, so it still was a shootout.

“It’s one of those days. You’re going to have days like that. And in all due respect to our players, I think our guys played their tails off.”

A lot was made of USC’s struggles against Kelly’s Oregon offenses. In the three games Kiffin served as USC’s defensive coordinator against Kelly’s Ducks, Oregon averaged 601 yards and 50 points. Oregon won two of three, including a 62-51 victory last November.

Kiffin, in his 16th season as an NFL defensive coordinator, gave Kelly, in his first year as an NFL head coach, his welcome-to-NFL moment.

The Cowboys, who entered the game ranked 30th in total defense, allowed the Eagles only 278 yards, including just 55 rushing by LeSean McCoy. They sacked Nick Foles three times, knocking him out of the game, and intercepted Matt Barkley three times.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones credited Kiffin, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and the rest of the defensive staff.

“We’re really getting coached up really good,” Jones said. “Monte and Rod and all of them are really showing these guys where to be, how to fundamentally play and all the kinds of things that if you believe in it and practice it, you’ll win ballgames. That was rewarding for our defense out there today, and that will carry through. This is something, a win that we can really build off of.”

The Cowboys’ showing Sunday was even more impressive given they played without their best pass usher. DeMarcus Ware, the team’s career sacks leader, missed the first game of his career with a quadriceps injury.

Thus, the Cowboys understood why no one gave them much of a chance to stop the Eagles, even with Philadelphia playing without Michael Vick.

“You could probably think anybody probably would doubt that,” backup defensive end Caesar Rayford said. “DeMarcus Ware is one of the best pass ushers and D-linemen out there, especially with us no-names. It was probably like, ‘uh, oh, kind of scary. What are these guys going to do?’ But we all just banded together and busted our tails.”

The Cowboys defensive linemen are too young to remember the Miami Dolphins’ No-Name Defense of 1972. But they have embraced the nickname for themselves.

“Just a bunch of guys of no-names, including myself,” Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. “We just want to go out there and play great for each other. I took them out Thursday [to a comedy club]. A lot of guys just got here, and I just talked to them. We were getting to know each other as men off the field. That carried on to this game. We just played our heart out for each other. I’m proud for each and every one of them tonight, man. Every one of them. It was a special feeling when you can bring guys together and make them play as one.”

The Cowboys’ projected starting defensive line in the preseason — Ware, Hatcher, Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer — has 1961/2 career sacks. The starting defensive line against the Eagles — George Selvie, Nick Hayden, Hatcher and Kyle Wilber — entered Sunday with 31 career sacks.

They outdid themselves Sunday.

“At the end of the day, it’s hard to replace DeMarcus Ware, obviously,” said Wilber, who replaced Ware at right end. “I’m not DeMarcus Ware. All I can do is be the best Kyle Wilber I can be.”

The no-names best was good enough for Kiffin to better Kelly.

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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