Cowboys: Defensive ends make the difference
Anthony Spencer and Jeremy Mincey were our top ranked 4-3 defensive ends for the Wild Card round in overall and pass rushing grading. Both played to career levels as individuals and their simultaneous spike in production played a key factor in the Dallas Cowboys’ Wild Card win.
Spencer (+5.0) played 40 snaps against the Lions en route to a +3.1 pass rushing grade, his best as a professional 4-3 defensive end. With 7 pressures on 29 opportunities, Spencer’s 19.0Pass Rushing Productivity was a marked improvement from his 5.4 regular season figure.
Mincey (+4.8) had some big games this year but his +4.0 pass rushing grade against the Lions is his best since Week 9 of 2011. Mincey’s PRP improved from 9.9 during the regular season to 19.8 during the Wild Card game.
The 2014 regular season had just 63 instances where a 4-3 defensive end played at least 20 pass rush snaps and had at least 15.0 Pass Rushing Production, making these individual performances uncommon but not rare. However, the Cowboys are the first team this season to have a pair of 4-3 defensive ends deliver pass rush grades above +3.0 in the same game.