Easily the most encouraging thing from Sunday’s 43-3 win over the Falcons was just how well the Cowboys responded to getting blown out by a middling Broncos team the week before. Atlanta drew the short end of the stick and had to endure Dallas’ wrath; that it served as a revenge game for Dan Quinn was icing on the cake.
The second most encouraging thing, though, had to be the way that Quinn’s bundle of rookie defenders played in such a game. They all ended up getting ample playing time, and they all made some splash plays in one way or another. For that kind of performance to come from so many rookies is a strong indication that these youngin’s have matched the mental fortitude of the rest of the roster.
Micah Parsons, LB
With Randy Gregory landing on the short-term injured reserve alongside DeMarcus Lawrence, and with Trevon Diggs in the midst of a two-game slump, Micah Parsons entered Sunday’s game as the Cowboys’ best defensive player on the field. And while Diggs got back in the interception business, Parsons didn’t do anything to lose that title.
He led the team with six tackles, as Quinn continued to use him a variety of ways rather than playing him primarily at EDGE, as had been done the last time Gregory missed a game. Parsons was part of a team effort that helped limit the dangerous Cordarrelle Patterson to just 39 scrimmage yards. He also continued to show off his skills as a pass rusher:
That play gave Parsons his sixth sack on the year, which puts him ahead of Gregory for the team lead. He’s also now in a tie for 13th-most sacks in the NFL. The guys he’s tied with include Danielle Hunter, Brian Burns, Chandler Jones, Khalil Mack, and Aaron Donald. That’s some good company to be in, and Parsons has proven week after week that he belongs.
Kelvin Joseph, CB
Kelvin Joseph continued to serve a role on special teams, seeing 17 snaps there on Sunday. But with the Cowboys getting up so big so early, it meant Joseph got to see the field on defense as well.
Joseph got 11 snaps on defense and was thrown at twice. Both times were incompletions, with one being a pass breakup and the other coming on a throw to the endzone. It wasn’t anything that’s going to launch him into the starting lineup, but it was valuable experience for the rookie.
Osa Odighizuwa, iDL
Were it not for Micah Parsons being, you know, Micah Parsons, then Osa Odighizuwa may have a claim to being the Cowboys’ best rookie. He’s consistently played at a high level, and that continued Sunday.
Once again, Odighizuwa’s 31 snaps led all interior defensive linemen and that was despite Dallas pulling its starters late in the game. He finished with just two tackles on the day, but Odighizuwa was doing work in run support and registered some pressure in the pass rush as well. The stats won’t always be there for him, given his position, but Odighizuwa remains a vital part of this defensive front.
Chauncey Golston, EDGE
Chauncey Golston saw a significant dip in his snaps last week, and the little action he did see wasn’t very good. But that didn’t stop Quinn from giving Golston 31 snaps Sunday, once again rotating him between the inside and outside.
Golston responded well, with three tackles and a few pressures, one of which turned into a hit on the quarterback. He also recorded this batted pass, which set up the consecutive pass breakups from Jourdan Lewis for a turnover on downs in the first quarter:
Nahshon Wright, CB
The Falcons game was full of various redemption stories given how things went against Denver, but few had a more on-the-nose moment than Nahshon Wright. Of course, last week Wright was the almost-hero as he tried to recover a blocked punt early in the third quarter and score. Had it gone well, he could have jump started a comeback effort for Dallas, but he was unable to corral the ball.
So, naturally, this week the Cowboys got another blocked punt near the endzone, and Wright was the one who came away with the ball in the endzone. Not only did he manage to recover the blocked punt, but he scored too. What a great story for the rookie, who continues to be a mainstay on special teams.
Jabril Cox, LB
Jabril Cox is on the injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Josh Ball, OT
Josh Ball is also on the injured reserve and likely will remain there all year, effectively taking a redshirt season.
Simi Fehoko, WR
Simi Fehoko was once again inactive.
Quinton Bohanna, iDL
In a surprise move, Quinton Bohanna was inactive for this game. It would stand to reason that Dallas did this because Atlanta’s skill position players - like Patterson and Kyle Pitts - would create a speed mismatch with the hulking Bohanna.
It’s also possible that the Cowboys just wanted to get a look at Trysten Hill, who made his season debut Sunday and played admirably. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle Bohanna - who has generally played well in a limited role all year - going forward.
Israel Mukuamu, S
Israel Mukuamu was inactive again.
Matt Farniok, OG
Matt Farniok was back to his usual duty of blocking on all kick attempts, this time going in for Lirim Hajrallahu’s five extra point attempts. But Farniok also got to play on offense for five snaps at the end of the game, even if three of those snaps were Cooper Rush taking a knee.