The Cowboys’ 51-26 win over the Eagles to end the regular season was unique in a few ways. First was the fact that it took place on a Saturday night, and the uncertain impact it could have on the team’s seeding added to that feeling.
Despite Mike McCarthy very clearly honoring his word and playing the game to win, the Cowboys were still without quite a few players, mostly on defense. When things effectively ended in the third quarter, McCarthy pulled the rest of his starters too. That meant a lot of time for the rookies we usually don’t see as much of. So how did they do?
Micah Parsons, LB
Micah Parsons didn’t travel for this game because he was on the COVID-19 reserve list. He’s expected to be back in time for the playoffs.
Kelvin Joseph, CB
With both Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown not playing in this one, Kelvin Joseph got to make his second career start. He ended up playing every single defensive snap and led the team in tackles with nine. Just as he did in his first start, Joseph displayed some nice physicality and closing speed.
It wasn’t a perfect day for the rookie. He let a sure interception bounce off his hands and into the hands of an Eagles receiver on the first drive. Joseph also got burned by fellow rookie DeVonta Smith on consecutive plays running the same route. But Joseph is still very green, and his limited exposure on defense this year has been promising on the whole.
Osa Odighizuwa, iDL
The Cowboys are a bit thin along the interior of their defensive line right now, and that meant Osa Odighizuwa still had to play a sizable amount of snaps in this one. His 42 snaps on defense led the Dallas interior linemen in this game, which was a change from Odighizuwa’s reduced role in recent weeks.
Odighizuwa had three tackles in the game and managed to create some pressure, but Philly’s run-heavy offense neutralized Odighizuwa and the other big boys. He played reliably against the run, though, which will be an important trait for the Wild Card round against the 49ers.
Chauncey Golston, EDGE
The Cowboys didn’t want to risk DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory anymore than they had to in this game, and that meant a healthy portion of snaps for Chauncey Golston on the edge. His 33 snaps were third-most among Dallas edge players, behind Tarell Basham and Dorance Armstrong. He finished with two tackles on the day.
Nahshon Wright, CB
Nahshon Wright received his first career start at cornerback, playing opposite Joseph. He joined his fellow rookie in being the only Dallas defender to play 100% of the snaps in this game. That’s some valuable experience for the rookie, who until now has been proving his worth almost exclusively on special teams.
Wright’s debut wasn’t quite as good as Joseph’s, though. He finished the game with four tackles, but gave up quite a few receptions. Wright was always considered more of a project in coverage than Joseph, and he’s had less experience playing on defense this year, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. The good news is that next week he’ll go back to his special teams role, where Wright has been excellent.
Jabril Cox, LB
Jabril Cox is on the injured reserve with a torn ACL.
Josh Ball, OT
Josh Ball is on the injured reserve.
Simi Fehoko, WR
Simi Fehoko remained inactive for this game, largely because Dallas planned on playing their starters a fair amount.
Quinton Bohanna, iDL
Quinton Bohanna returned from the COVID-19 list but was inactive for this game.
Israel Mukuamu, S
Israel Mukuamu was active in this game and ended up seeing his first defensive snaps since the last time Dallas put their backups in during a blowout win over the Eagles. Mukuamu played on just 16 snaps, tied for the second-lowest on defense, and didn’t record any stats. Still, it’s good to get some meaningful game experience for a guy who’s been inactive most of the year.
Matt Farniok, OG
After being inactive last week, Matt Farniok was back for this one and blocking on Greg Zuerlein’s kick attempts. Later in the game, Farniok got some extended time on offense, seeing all 11 of his snaps there come on offense.
It wasn’t much, and the Eagles were quite defeated at the time, but Farniok displayed some real physicality and a good motor in his snaps. He secured a critical block on the Cowboys’ final touchdown of the night, too. The Cowboys may have something in this kid.
JaQuan Hardy, RB
JaQuan Hardy made his NFL debut on the road against Washington about a month ago and received his first carry ever. Hardy was back on the field Saturday night, and was put in late in the game to tote the rock three times. He finished with 26 yards, highlighted by his 22-yard touchdown run.
Cowboys RB JaQuan Hardy scores his first career NFL touchdown. Football is a contacts sport. pic.twitter.com/1ptXw82lAZ— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 9, 2022
This was a big moment for Hardy, naturally, but it also gave the Cowboys the NFL record for most players to score a touchdown in a single season. Hardy hasn’t had many opportunities this year, but he’s now etched into the history books of America’s Team.
Tyler Coyle, S
Tyler Coyle was called up from the practice squad against the Saints to play on special teams, and he was once again brought up to do the same against the Eagles. Coyle also saw some snaps on defense later on, and he finished with two tackles between the two.
Coyle had a scary moment during the game when he went down, but it turned out to just be cramping issues. Coyle returned to the game later on, finishing a nice game of experience for the undrafted rookie.