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Playoff Spotlight Shines on Cowboys Rookie Leighton Vander Esch

There were many memorable performances from the weekend win over the ; , , and all had big games for the Cowboys. They are veterans in the NFL at this point in their careers and Dak and Zeke had each been to the before. While it should come as no surprise, rookie played excellent in the first playoff game of his young career.

He wasn't selected to the and he probably won't win the award either, but Vander Esch continues to shine in every opportunity given.

According to , Vander Esch led the Dallas Cowboys with 10 tackles, eight stops, and had the highest grade for the Cowboys that held the Seattle Seahawks in check for 58 minutes of that game.

Though he wasn't credited with a pressure, his blitz on toward the end of the first half led to Wilson throwing the ball a little sooner than Ed Dickson was ready for it and the ball went over Dickson's head and was incomplete. That play led to a field goal and gave the Dallas Cowboys plenty of time at the end of the half to drive for a score, which they did.

Vander Esch has played excellent all season and continues to prove the Dallas Cowboys decision makers right by making him the 19th overall selection in the . Most people saw Vander Esch as a late first or type talent, mostly due to inexperience and a perceived lack of physicality. It's easy to see on a weekly basis though, what the Cowboys brass saw when they made the selection. They saw Leighton Vander Esch as a playmaking linebacker who could stand out in the run game and play excellent pass defense as well. His tackling ability has been spot on and he looks like he's a veteran with the way he flies around the field.

Vander Esch, like many of the players on the Cowboys defense was getting his first experience in the , and like many of the Dallas Cowboys wasn't phased by the bigger stage.

The will get another big challenge this week when they face the and their vaunted offense. Led by , the Rams are able to run the football and score points, but it's not like the Cowboys haven't seen teams like that. They beat the Seahawks who led the league in rushing. They beat the that were sixth in the NFL this season in rushing and first in the NFL in scoring.

Leighton Vander Esch is a big reason the Cowboys defense is playing the way they're playing this season and will be a key reason the Dallas Cowboys ability to advance past the Los Angeles Rams to the Championship. The rookie is playing beyond his years and though he won't receive any hardware for his tremendous 2018 campaign, he's chasing the only hardware that matters; a Lombardi Trophy.

John Williams
John Williams
Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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