GREEN BAY — No NFL pass-rusher can be absolutely certain when his first NFL sack is going to come, but Dean Lowry had an idea he might have a chance on Sunday.
Hours of film study for the Packers rookie defensive end culminated in a second-and-10 situation in the second quarter against Houston.
Playing a rush game with outside linebacker Datone Jones, Lowry noticed how deep left tackle Duane Brown was in his stance, tipping him off that the Texans might be looking to pass.
“You have to understand how the tackle is setting. Sometimes he’ll set differently for run versus pass,” Lowry said. “That time (Brown) set deeper, so we knew right away it was pass.”
Brown’s eyes were fixed on Jones rushing to his outside shoulder as soon as the ball was snapped, while left guard Xavier Su’a-Filo intentionally stayed inside to double-team nose tackle Letroy Guion.
The momentary lapse provided Lowry with a clear path to Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, which the rookie fourth-round pick out of Northwestern capitalized on for an 8-yard sack.
Lowry didn’t have anything planned in terms of a celebration, but he bounced off Jones and several other teammates after popping back to his feet.
“I remember my first sack when I was a rookie. I think it took about nine weeks,” said Jones, now in his fourth season. “But to see him get his first sack, I was so excited for him.”
Lowry’s opportunities have been limited with how many pass-oriented offenses the Packers have faced recently. However, the Texans’ run-heavy offense required the Packers to deploy more of their traditional 3-4 personnel.
That meant more snaps for Lowry, who has seen most of his work this season as the five-technique end in the base defense.
Along with the sack, Lowry also batted down an Osweiler pass on a second-and-10 in the third quarter. He finished with a season-high 18 defensive snaps.
“That was one of the plays where I came inside on the play and I pushed the guard back and used my height to see over him a little bit,” said Lowry of the deflection.
“I put my hands up and got the ball. I think that’s one of the plays where you can have an impact as a defensive lineman if they’re max protecting in base, you can get your hands up and impact him that way.”
As special as it was to record his first sack, Lowry was proud to contribute to the run defense limiting Texans running back Lamar Miller to 22 yards on 14 carries. Miller entered the game as the fifth-leading rusher in the NFL this season.
His sack won’t soon be forgotten, though. It’s situations like the one Lowry encountered on Sunday afternoon that make all the hours in the classroom worth it.
Several defensive players tapped Lowry on the helmet after his sack to congratulate him, adding that it was the first of many more to come in his young NFL career.
“It was pretty cool,” Lowry said. “Also to see Julius get a sack, too, made it special. Just to see the game the D-line played made it a fun day.”