IRVING, Texas – A defense that entered Sunday's game against the Chargers as the NFC leaders in sacks with 13 on the season managed to bring Philip Rivers down just once.
That didn't sit well with head coach Jason Garrett, who wasn't going to blame the injuries that occurred on the line for the lack of pressure.
"They did not play to their level, and a lot of different reasons for that," Garrett said. "We're playing a lot of different combinations and all of that, but there are no excuses."
The Cowboys are already notably without Tyrone Crawford for the season. Jay Ratliff's been on the Physically Unable to Perform list, while Anthony Spencer went to injured reserve. The defensive line's still managed to bring consistent pressure on the quarterback, led by DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher.
Hatcher hurried Rivers into a throw and got a piece of the quarterback once, which led to an interception return for a touchdown, but Ware missed 25 percent of the defensive snaps after straining a muscle in his back. George Selvie, who's stepped in masterfully for Spencer, also left the game with a head injury.
"I think they're both progressing," Garrett said. "We'll take them day to day. We don't think either of them are serious, serious injuries. But it's something they'll have to deal with during the week."
Selvie's injury appeared to be a concussion, as he was getting tests on the sideline. He missed even more time than Ware, but Garrett was careful not to label it as a concussion.
"The way I got it was a head injury," he said. "He's going to go through the process that everybody who has a head injury goes through over the course of the week. That's how they described it to me."
The Chargers quelled the Cowboys' pass rush by getting the ball out quick. Garrett said they also did a good job of possessing the ball and using the no huddle to play at a pace that allowed the offense to control the game. [embedded_ad]
That can be hard on defensive linemen, particularly a group that features so many new faces, but Garrett said the Cowboys linemen needed to be ready to play.
"You've got to bring it every play," he said. "There's a reason we rotate guys through. We had a six, seven, eight man rotation going for most of the ballgame, so when you're out there and you have an opportunity, you've got to be fresh. I don't care if you got here yesterday or you've been here for 10 years."
It was even more surprising to see the lack of pressure considering the Chargers' offensive line was dealing with a multitude of injuries. Garrett said the defensive linemen could have done a better job pushing the pocket, even when Rivers got the ball out quickly.
He also said the players on the back end needed to cover better earlier on in the routes, making Rivers hold the ball longer than he would have liked.
"We played a lot of combinations of guys on our defensive front, guys who just got here, guys who have been here for a long time," he said. "That's just the nature of this league. But our defensive line, we have a lot of confidence in those guys and what they've done for us and how they've affected games. We didn't affect the game and impact the quarterback enough in yesterday's game."