That’s how he was described by one of my Viking fan friends who hadn’t witnessed his attack – which seemed virtually unstoppable – as he tried to deal with Micah Parsons and this 2022 Cowboys defense. They had just beaten the Bills in Buffalo and many had assured them that the Bills defense is probably the gold standard of units to overcome to win the Lombardi Trophy. The Bills and 49ers, probably.
No one envisioned the 2022 Cowboys as a group to be this elite standard of defense as the season began.
Nearly three full months into the year, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Cowboys Pass Rush is a real problem for almost everyone.
People might say Green Bay proved this to be false, but I almost believe it was more proven in Green Bay. Yes, it was one of the weakest QB pressure days of the season, but the game was available on a huge early strip sack and if the offense correctly pocketed the ball from Aaron Rodgers at the 10 yard line for a 14 -0 or even 10-0 lead, Dallas probably get that game too. But overall, Green Bay’s attitude should tell us that the Packers thought the best way to deal with the Dallas crowds was to not deal with them at all. Let the ball run again and again and only throw the ball if there is no other way.
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Minnesota did not repeat the recipe. The Vikings entered the game with confidence. But boy, it didn’t last long.
Dallas and his nominee for best defensive player in football waited until the very first third of the day—the third snap shot from scrimmage—before they wrecked things.
This is how to catch a game in the first sequence of the game all at once.
1Q – 1:52 PM – Third & Third – MIN 32 – Cousins sacked at MIN 25 for -7 yards by Parsons and fumbles, recovered by Armstrong
It’s third and short and the Cowboys have a four-man rush against a Vikings offensive line that feels pretty good about its tackles. Parsons will take on second-year left tackle Christian Darrisaw (71). DeMarcus Lawrence is on veteran right tackle Brian O’Neill (75). You see the Vikings have a mesh concept right in front of Cousins to beat man-marking, with a tight end-dig route behind it with new TE TJ Hockenson (87) and then one in with Justin Jefferson (18) coming out of the right side of Cousins. comes. This is their bread and butter game. Cousins can see Lawrence allowing the edge as he enters his man and Cousins is free to roll away from Parsons to the right and is more than happy to take that escape path as he only has to run ten feet to extend the ride.
However, he literally doesn’t even get off the hash when it’s clear to all of us that Parsons wasn’t blocked, but seemed to play his move slowly. Because almost when Parsons decided he was done with Darrisaw, he slips on him and goes after Cousins. We put it this way to be nice to cousins, but we’re about to see cousins barely allowed a few more steps. Meanwhile, you can see the Cowboys coverage waiting for KJ Osborn (17) where Dallas has three defensemen hoping he blindly throws it there.
Cousins knows his next move is to normally go second level to Hockenson or Jefferson and Jefferson is ready for the Vikings logo. Cousins also know that if he resets to throw, he will get beaten up and bad things will happen. He must try to run away from an edge rusher who may be the fastest player on the field.
This is how fast it goes. From running from one hashmark to another, Cousins’ situation went from normal to critical and he’s been doing this long enough to know this is about to hurt.
And yes, the one thing you can’t do here is let the ball out of your possession, but Parsons didn’t ask, he took. He not only swept and caught Cousins, but also knocked the ball loose. In the blink of an eye and before many fans could take their seats, Parsons tried to rectify the feeling he had all week that Dallas couldn’t let them beat them twice in the final game. It’s here in the banana stand.
Parsons is doing what he always does and sent a loud and clear message that this day will be one when there will be no doubt. He’s had an incredible season, but on Sunday he set his season high with nine pressure points en route to two sacks and several other moments where the damage could have been worse.
Sometimes I wonder if we don’t spend too much time on Parsons and write more about his buddies. Then you talk to some people who are experiencing Parsons live for the first time and you realize what we are routinely treated with and certainly shouldn’t allow it to be normalized.
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Dallas had seven sacks.
I suppose we all understand how rare that is, but let me reiterate it hasn’t happened for the Cowboys since 2008. That was the year Dallas led the NFL in sacks with 59 and actually had two games with seven sacks. I often cringe when revisionist history claims that Tony Romo and his offensive buddies had no help during those Wade Phillips years because the defense was pretty devastating and led the NFL by a wide margin from 2007 to 2009. The Cowboys had nearly 50 more sacks than the NFL average over a three-year span with several high sacked players difficult to stop individually and nearly impossible as a group. But that was almost 15 years ago and this current group may be even more dangerous.
Anyway, Dallas is always 56-5 in games when they sack the opposing quarterback at least six times and it rises to 31-2 when they sack the opposing quarterback at least seven times. In other words, you won’t lose very often if you can achieve so much.
From that point of the fumble, Dallas took control. It allowed a lone field goal on the second drive and then did a great thing in the last eight drives of the game: it didn’t allow Minnesota to get the ball past its own 44-yard line. Not once.
How can you keep that attack off midfield for almost an entire afternoon?
It’s called relentless pressure. Dallas scared an entire stadium. That one play we showed you above inspired many others and by the end of the second quarter you could see the veteran Minnesota QB, who is able to take his fair share of hits, look like he had already decided that they would fight another day.
Eye level dropped and interest level seemed to drop as well. With a relentless pass, the Cowboys stole the will right away from the Vikings. And let me tell you something, that travels in the off season. If Dallas can make that effort in January, it can beat anyone, anywhere.
That can be the thing about championships. And Dallas hasn’t had anything this special in a very long time.
Weekly Data Box: Week 11 in Minnesota
I’ve definitely never used so much green ink on the image above, but I also don’t recall playing a match against a decent opponent and not having a moment to whine about all afternoon. The defense played an almost perfect game and we will almost certainly tell you that the offense did too.
The Vikings had a total offense of 183 yards, no drives to hit their own 45 after the first quarter and only one 20-yard play all day?
If this isn’t the best game we’ve seen from a Dallas defense in a long time, I’d love to hear another one. This was an outright domination that should make Minnesota quite concerned about those two teams and the particular matchup of its offensive line trying to block this pass rush.
It was a no contest.
That’s Jefferson, Adam Thielen, Hockenson and Dalvin Cook right there. That’s some special players and a quarterback that’s pretty skilled. Dallas made them look like they weren’t going to win the Big 12.
Cowboys pass by in a hurry
The dominance is found in how good your pass rush is with four rushers or less. Only one of the seven sacks came from a blitz, so that will terrify this league. The Cowboys don’t have to take more to get home. They come home just fine.
Week 11 splash games
The rise of Sam Williams continues as the rookie posed another threat. At some point you would like him to run more, but at whose expense on the edge? Parsons and Lawrence are great, Dorance Armstrong is very good, and Dante Fowler has been there too. Williams is the fifth rim and he’s been great. Can he pass someone on the ladder? This is the kind of depth that could get you right in the event of an injury.
2022 – Cowboys Splash Play Standings
The season totals show that Parsons has a nice lead over Lawrence with only an army of guys averaging at least one sack per game. This is a great group doing great things.
I’m skipping film study today because of the short week, but I’ll make sure you have it too this supercut of pass rush domination in the banana stand to see the seven bag day in all its glory. It’s something to enjoy.
(Top photo by Micah Parsons: Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today)