PHILADELPHIA -- Chip Kelly joked this week that he never saw Sean Lee wreaking havoc while he was studying the USC defenses the last few years.
It was Kelly’s way of downplaying the relevance of his success against Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin at the college level, pointing out that personnel mattered much more than scheme. It was a much more prescient comment than the Eagles coach would have preferred.
Lee, the Cowboys’ middle linebacker, headlined a dominant defensive effort in Dallas’ 17-3 victory Sunday afternoon.
“I’m glad he’s on our side and we’re counting on him,” owner Jerry Jones said. “You could argue there’s nobody that’s more important to the success of our team than Sean Lee.”
Lee provided plenty of ammunition for that argument against the Eagles. He was credited with 11 tackles, one tackle for a loss, an interception and a pass deflection as the Philadelphia offense sputtered all day.
That’s the kind of outing that makes an owner smile after the six-year, $42 million contract extension he gave Lee just before the season started.
LeSean McCoy’s statistical line might be the best indicator of Lee’s impact on the game. McCoy, the NFL’s leading rusher, was held to only 55 yards on 18 carries. The most impressive play Lee made was when he ran down McCoy a few yards behind the line of scrimmage on a sweep, when it appeared that McCoy was going to turn the corner and rip off a big gain.
“I remember the last time I came up here and played two years ago, he ran for 180,” Lee said, acknowledging that he took the challenge of containing McCoy personally. “He ran all over us, so I knew coming in, this guy’s an unbelievable player and an extreme challenge. All week we were working on finding a way to stop him, finding a way to stop him. I think we did a pretty good job today doing it.”
McCoy has been the best running back in the league this season, but Lee was the best player at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.