PHILADELPHIA – Sean Lee hadn't played consecutive regular-season games since December 2013.
Sunday, the veteran linebacker looked like he'd never left.
Lee was simply all over the field in the Cowboys' 20-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, registering a game-high 14 tackles – the fifth-highest single-game total of his career – and leading the defense's outstanding effort to limit their old teammate DeMarco Murray to only two yards on 13 carries.
There clearly wasn't any physical or mental hangover from Lee's Week 1 performance against the Giants, his first full-game action in nearly two years after returning from ACL surgery that cost him the entire 2014 season. Sunday he also had two tackles for loss, two pass deflections, and a key interception of quarterback Sam Bradford in the end zone that stopped a 12-play drive in the third quarter and kept the Eagles scoreless in front of their exasperated Lincoln Financial Field crowd.
It was Lee's 12th interception since he entered the league in 2010, and despite only playing in 47 of a possible 82 career games, it's the highest interception total by a linebacker in the NFL in that span.
And, for good measure, Lee recovered the Eagles' onside kick with 1:21 remaining to seal the Cowboys' second win of the early season.
"Especially being out and not playing for a while, any time you play a division team it's great to get a win, especially with the talent they have," he said.
"The coaches came up with an unbelievable game plan, the defensive line did a great job in the run game, directing the run, and a lot of times you saw I was free to run to the football because the defensive line did a great job."
Stopping Murray clearly was a top priority. Last year's 1,845-yard rusher caught five passes for 53 yards Sunday against his old team but got nowhere on the ground.
Five of Lee's 14 stops were against Murray. The defense's most significant stand was the opening drive of the second half, when defensive ends Jeremy Mincey and DeMarcus Lawrence stopped Murray on consecutive plays for a cumulative 11-yard loss. Two plays later, Danny McCray blocked the Eagles' punt and Kyle Wilber returned it 26 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
"(Murray) is an unbelievably talented guy," Lee said. "We went against him in practice every day for a couple years and know how talented he is. So we prepared, the coaches had an unbelievable game plan, and we knew we were going to have to be at our best with that offensive line, with him and the backs that they have."