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Carr: Poor game plan last season

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr blamed a poor game plan for Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson's dominance during the last meeting between the teams.

Johnson caught 14 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown in the Lions' 31-30 win over the Cowboys last season, coming seven receiving yards shy of Flipper Anderson's NFL record. The vast majority of those yards came at the expense of Carr, who watched film from that game this week in preparation of Sunday's playoff matchup with "Megatron" and the Lions.

"I said, 'Brandon, you're pretty brave and you have a lot of pride for playing with that game plan last year. Good job,'" Carr said Friday.

Former Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin left Carr on an island against Johnson frequently during that loss to the Lions, when Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 488 yards. There were also times when safeties or linebackers were supposed to help Carr but couldn't get in position to do so due to schematic flaws.

Kiffin was demoted in the offseason after Dallas finished 2013 last in the league in total defense, allowing a franchise-record 415.3 yards per game. Under Rod Marinelli, who was promoted from defensive line coach to replace Kiffin as coordinator, the Cowboys ranked 19th in total defense this season, allowing 355.1 yards per game.

Marinelli acknowledged that the Cowboys would make Johnson, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2011 and 2012, more of a focal point in their game plan than they did last season.

"I think we're going to be able to maybe give [Carr] more help than we did," Marinelli said. "And I feel like Brandon is a terrific corner and he's up for this challenge, but as a staff we've got to find ways to help him."

Carr, who performed well in December after struggling most of this season, cited "a different signal-caller" when discussing the reasons he felt this matchup against Johnson would be different.

"Last year, he got the best of us," Carr said. "The good thing about football is you get a chance to do it again. Now we're back in the same position with more at stake. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."

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