IRVING (AP) – George Selvie had the most sacks, and Kyle Wilber had the most snaps for the Dallas defensive line.
Somehow, life in the first game without DeMarcus Ware was just fine for the Cowboys.
A unit dubbed the “no-name group” by Dallas owner Jerry Jones dominated one of the league’s best offenses in a 17-3 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday.
Even the offense was adequate with Joseph Randle filling in for running back DeMarco Murray and depth at receiver showing up again with Miles Austin still slowed by hamstring problems.
The Cowboys acknowledge that sustaining things won’t be easy if Ware’s right quadriceps muscle and Murray’s left knee keep the pair out much longer.
But shutting down first-year coach Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense was cause for Tony Romo to get at least a little excited heading into Sunday’s game at Detroit.
“I don’t know if that’s happened in my career where you’re able to just lean on them,” Romo said of his defense. “If you’re going to do stuff in January you’re going to need to lean on them at different times. It happens every year and it’s nice to know our defense can do that.”
January? The Cowboys have exactly one playoff win since 1997, and the challenge is immense if they keep having to shuttle defensive linemen to the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters.
The additions are so frequent, Ware joked last week about the “school bus” that brings new players every week and another bus that takes them to the team hotel in the area before each home game. He’s actually not exaggerating much.
Selvie didn’t join the team until a few days into training camp when it became clear the Cowboys would be without end Anthony Spencer for a while, which has since turned out to be for the season after two knee surgeries in two months.
Now he’s starting in Spencer’s spot and had 1½ sacks against the Eagles. Selvie is second to Jason Hatcher with 4½ sacks for the season. That’s half a sack more than Ware, the franchise leader with 115 for his career.
Wilber, who took Ware’s place when the four-time All Pro missed the first game of his career in the middle of his ninth season, was drafted as an outside linebacker last year for the 3-4 defense under former coordinator Rob Ryan.
He’s been adjusting to end ever since Monte Kiffin replaced Ryan in February, and his breakthrough came last week against Washington when he forced and recovered a fumble from Robert Griffin III to put the Cowboys 3 yards from a clinching touchdown.
He didn’t have a sack against the Eagles, but led the linemen with 59 snaps — four more than Hatcher.
“It’s the most extended action he’s had,” coach Jason Garrett said “He’s still learning his technique, trying to understand how to get away from guys as a rusher and I think the more he does it in games the better he’s going to get at it. He is showing up.”
Jarius Wynn had half a sack Sunday — five days after signing with the Cowboys. He’s the 13th defensive lineman to join the Dallas roster shuffle since the start of training camp.
Dallas added a 14th on Monday in Marvin Austin, a second-round pick two years ago who was among the final cuts by the New York Giants and played in two games for Miami before his release last week.
And yet, the defensive front was a big reason LeSean McCoy, the league’s leading rusher coming into the game, had 55 yards and a 3.1 per-carry average.
“Missing D-Ware and the rest of those key guys, Hatch has done a great job of being a leader and bringing those guys together and having them play some tough, physical football,” receiver Dez Bryant said.
Bryant led Dallas with 110 yards receiving, but had a lot of help. Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams had six catches apiece, and Williams tied a club rookie record with a touchdown in his third straight game.
Randle, another rookie, had 65 yards rushing and another 28 receiving — and no miscues in 22 touches a week after making his debut when Murray got hurt against the Redskins.
“He’s going to help us,” Romo said. “I didn’t think it was too big for him. I thought he ran hard. And I thought he was pretty good in his blocking assignments.”
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