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3 stars from Cowboys 22-20 loss to the Dolphins

Who do you think played well for the Cowboys in Miami?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Merry Christmas to all. Regrettably, Santa Claus didn’t go from the North Pole to South Beach, as Christmas didn’t come for the Cowboys in Miami. The defense played admirably well to hold the Miami Dolphins offense to five field goals versus one touchdown score. The offense moved the ball well in spurts but was undone by a costly turnover near the goal line, and the defense could not get a stop in the closing minutes.

Let’s acknowledge the players who almost gifted the Cowboys a victory. Here are your stars of the game.

CeeDee Lamb

CeeDee Lamb’s game is a tale of two halves. The Cowboys featured Lamb in the passing game to open the game, opening the first drive with a quick out to Lamb. On the Cowboys’ second possession, Lamb and quarterback Dak Prescott would connect on a 49-yard catch and run to take a 7-3 lead.

Prescott did a good job identifying the blitz to get Lamb the ball on the move, but Lamb’s ability to run away from the Dolphins’ secondary made that play happen. Lamb did it all for Dallas on Sunday. He was used on the perimeter as a receiver, inside the slot, and even had a very good run as the running back on an inside zone run from out of the shotgun.

Early on, Lamb would appear to be the offense’s centerpiece and get targeted throughout the contest. Unfortunately, Dallas didn’t look to Lamb until much later in the game but also shined late in the contest. The Cowboys drove the ball to take the lead, and Lamb was integral in that possession.

Trailing 19-13, the Cowboys needed to convert a 3rd and 6. Lamb was able to separate from the secondary for the first down. Three plays later, Prescott would return to Lamb for a critical conversion on fourth down to keep the drive alive. When given the opportunity, Lamb came through time and time again. The course of this game would have been much different if Dallas’ game plan had stayed with Lamb throughout the contest.

DeMarcus Lawrence/Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence are being highlighted as one star together because the two players led the charge for the Cowboys’ defense. The intensity of these two players was tangible. Both of them were very animated on the field and created a lot of pressure on the Miami offense.

Parsons may have caught on to the cadence of Tua Tagovailoa because countless times Parsons was able to get in the backfield and hurry the Dolphins quarterback. His box score numbers aren’t gaudy, although seven tackles, three quarterback hits, and a half-sack aren’t anything to scoff at. Some argue that Parsons would have had a more significant impact without the officials, and Parsons agrees.

As for Lawrence, he, too, didn’t fill the stat sheet, but he disrupted several plays in the Dolphins’ backfield to contain their horizontal running attack. Take this play for example.

Plays like this that create opportunities for others are why Lawrence continues to be one of the Cowboys’ most productive yet underrated players. While Parsons has assumed the presence of a vocal leader of this defense, Lawrence is still very much that type of guy for this team and is as spirited as ever, as his play showed on Sunday.

Donovan Wilson

Over the last month or so, Donovan Wilson has gone largely unnoticed. Considering how many safety/linebacker hybrids Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn utilizes, it’s somewhat understandable. Yet, Donovan Wilson is a one-of-one. Wilson was active for most of the game and was all over the field for the Cowboys. As you could say, Parsons and Lawrence were setting the tone, and so was Wilson. There were some big hits on the field, and Wilson was behind a few.

Dallas holding the Dolphins to mostly field goals has much to do with stopping their running game and Wilson’s efforts. The Dolphins boast some impressive talent at running back, such as Raheem Mostert, who is having a career year, and the rooker speedster De’Von Achane. Dallas held the Dolphins to only 91 rushing yards on 26 attempts. (3.5 yards per carry) Donovan Wilson has a lot to do with that. He was tough, coming downhill in run support and recording 12 combined tackles (8 solo) for a punishing performance.

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