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Cowboys No-Name Defensive Line Still Hustling, Still Producing

The Cowboys have relied on a slew of street free-agents along the defensive line, and they're performing better than they have any right to.

Wesley Hitt

For this week's win over the Vikings, I'm going to single out the teamwork of the guys along the defensive line, the ones with no names. First, let's dispense with the caveat, they got blown out in the run game by Adrian Peterson. But, they aren't the first line to have that happen on their watch. So, with that out of the way let's talk about what they did right.

The obvious was the big play, the one that gave the Cowboys seven points and some momentum. Christian Ponder dropped back into his own endzone but had no awareness that George Selvie was closing in on him. Selvie reached out and stripped the ball as Ponder got crunched between some defenders and Nick Hayden fell on the ball for a touchdown. This was a huge play for the Cowboys, it gave them temporary momentum and provided points they were going to need by the end of the game.

The Cowboys no-names were also partially responsible for the Cowboys other turnover, the Orlando Scandrick interception. The newest no-name, Everette Brown, burst through the line and had direct pressure in the face of Ponder. This forced Ponder throw up a bad pass that fell right into Scandrick's hands. Two turnovers, seven points, directly attributable to the defensive line.

Now, when you look at the stats, outside of the turnovers, you might think the line was average on the day in rushing the passer. But after watching the replay, you'd come to a different conclusion. I watched every single Vikings pass play for the game and there were usually two outcomes. One, Ponder drops back and gets the ball out quick, they were dumping off passes and relying on YAC to move downfield. Two, the Cowboys were putting some level of pressure on Ponder.

Almost all of the line had some impact at least once on the pass rush, with newest signee Everette Brown really putting together a nice debut. And they had to do some of this with their final remaining "name" player on the bench with a stinger, Jason Hatcher. You can also throw in their hustle, beyond the pass rush. Nick Hayden was able to stop Adrian Peterson after a catch, holding him to a short gain. Brown turned around after rushing the passer and tracked down Peterson on a run in the redzone. Ceasar Rayford ran back to tackle Peterson after a catch and run downfield of 19 yards. Selvie did the same thing 13 yards downfield. They hustle relentlessly to the ball.

Look, they aren't dominant, but for a bunch of guys picked up off the street, some of them only a few weeks into the system, they managed to affect the outcome of the game in a positive way. So here's to the no-names.

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