ARLINGTON – On an afternoon so bright with promise that the owner put the top down at JerryWorld, Dak Prescott looked like his old self Sunday while the defense lost a little of its newfound luster, leaving us confused about the Cowboys’ identity at intermission.
But if you want a reason to believe in the Cowboys in the season’s second half – and you should after a 49-29 win over the Bears – consider one play and the singular player who made it.
In a game he didn’t collect a sack or even a quarterback hit, Parsons still managed to provide the most startling play of the day, reinforcing his image as a game-changer.
Picture this: On a third-and-16 from his own 19 midway through the third quarter, Justin Fields, desperately trying to keep the Bears in the game, steps inside Parsons’ rush to hit David Montgomery for what looks like a sure first down. Except a lunging Leighton Vander Esch strips the running back, the ball bouncing end-over-end toward the sideline 17 yards downfield from where the play began.
Next thing you know, here comes … Parsons, having disentangled himself from a Bears tackle, retracing his steps and leaping over a prostrate Montgomery to recover the fumble. And had the play ended there, it’d have been exceptional enough. Certainly Fields thinks it sufficient as he hurdles Parsons and walks dejectedly toward his bench.
Frankly, Parsons thinks the play is dead, too, until a teammate, realizing Fields hadn’t touched the Cowboys’ linebacker, yells, “Go! Go! Go!”
And go he does, first down the sideline, then cutting back inside and ultimately tumbling into his first NFL touchdown.
Micah. Parsons. Is. Unbelievable.
— SportsDay Cowboys (@dmn_cowboys)
From snap to end zone, according to Next Gen Stats, Parsons covered 92 yards.
Did it feel that long?
“S— yeah, man,” Parsons said. “I was tired.”
Not as tired as what Dak knows comes next.
“Honestly, I’m like, geez, I’m gonna hear this for a while,” he said, “that he needs to run the ball on offense.”
As a matter of fact…
“I think I definitely deserve a rep now,” Parsons said. “They can’t say that they haven’t seen it in a game, so hopefully I get thrown into a goal line package or red zone package.
“Hey, who knows?”
If we’ve learned anything about Parsons a season-and-a-half into his NFL career, it’s that he has no limits. Line him up wherever you want. Linebacker. Defensive end. Safety.
For the record: His last touchdown before Sunday was at Harrisburg High back in Pennsylvania, where, in his senior year, in his only real experience as a running back, he scored 27 times.
Or once every 4.04 carries.
Of course, the Cowboys might not seem in the market for another back after Tony Pollard went for 131 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries. He provided the Cowboys, who put up more points Sunday than any team this season, yet another explosive element against a defense that came in yielding only 18.9 points a game. Dak, as sharp as ever, finished 21 of 27 for 250 yards with two touchdowns and ran for another.
Dak’s only mistake came just before the half, when he tried to find CeeDee Lamb deep over the middle and hit Eddie Jackson instead, setting up a Chicago field goal.
Conceding it as an example of “overconfidence” and “miscommunication,” Dak nevertheless said, “That’s the way I’m gonna play.”
Only last week, Dak told us he’d learned from the conservative approach that had worked so well for his backup, Cooper Rush. They’d let the defense, which even after Sunday remains third in the NFL in points allowed at 16.6, carry the load. Seemed like a good idea, anyway, except the defense, which has struggled against the run, gave up a whopping 240 yards to the league’s best running game.
What we’ve learned so far this season, though, is that the NFC and everyone in it is flawed.
Except maybe No. 11.
“I mean, that guy’s athletic, a hell of a player, one of the best in the league,” Dak said.
Parsons isn’t merely a sack machine, in other words. Last week against the Lions, he made what Zack Martin called the “play of the game” by running down a tight end from behind to prevent a touchdown. Dalton Schultz described another play, in which Parsons busted up a screen, as “ridiculous.”
And how did his teammates rate Parsons’ first touchdown?
“Ten out of 10,” Ezekiel Elliott said, then reconsidered.
“Ball security? One. Running ability? Ten.”
For his part, Parsons simply attributed his touchdown to perseverance. Dan Quinn has coached him up to believe that his speed is his “superpower,” and, because of it, he should never give up on any play.
He’s a believer. You should be, too.
“Eventually the ball is going to come your way, you know,” Parsons said.
“That’s just the football gods.”
Or so says one of them.
This content was originally published here.