. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is getting a lot of praise and deservedly so for his work with a supposedly maligned unit.
The Dallas defense has played better than expected all season and was even more impressive in its ability to shut down quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the highly-touted Green Bay offense in the Cowboys’ 30-16 victory on Sunday.
The Packers scored their lone touchdown late in the fourth quarter when the Cowboys were leading 27-9 and the game all but decided
Kudos to Marinelli.
But let’s not overlook the brilliant work of offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, who put together a play-calling masterpiece against revered Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott garnered all the headlines on ofrfense because of the gaudy numbers they posted against the Packers. Prescott completed 18 of 27 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns while Elliott rushed 28 times for 157 yards.
But it was Linehan who orchestrated it all like the maestro that he is, starting with the opening script of the game that yielded a Cowboys score on the first drive for the fifth time time in six games.
It continued with his ability to stick with the run to set up things later in the game.
But he was most brilliant at critical times.
On third and 1 late in the first half, he caught the Packers napping with a jet sweep to receiver Lucky Whitehead, resulting in a 26-yard gain. A Cowboys team that began the drive backed up at the 3 was now in scoring mode. Two plays later, Prescott capped off a five-play, 97-yard rive in 33 seconds with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brice Butler, giving the Cowboys a 17-6 halftime lead.
Linehan then put a clown suit on the Packers defense in the fourth quarter.
Green Bay got a field goal to make the score 20-9 following the first interception of Prescott’s career.
The crowd at Lambeau Field was back in the game and the Cowboys faced another critical third and 1.
Linehan inserted the jumbo package with guard Joe Looney coming in as extra tight end, but caught the Packers by the surprise with a play-action deep ball to Whitehead for a 35-yard gain.
That drive ended with another brilliant play-action pass to receiver Cole Beasley for a 4-yard touchdown pass from Prescott, turning Lambeau Field into a graveyard with a 27-9 lead with with 10:31 left.
“I thought Scott Linehan was fantastic in this game and did a really good job sticking with the run and allowing those guys up front to work and establish that physicalness that we want,” coach Jason Garrett said. “But then just in critical moments. he was great. It was a third and short late in the game, the play to Lucky was a big play in the game. The play action where Beasley scored was down inside the 10 was again a big time play. The persistence to run the football and then at different time to call plays that allowed us to make big plays. I thought he was outstanding. Obviously the guys executed.”