The look of disappointment on the face of Micah Parsons during his postgame interview on Sunday expressed much more than dissatisfaction over the Cowboys' 26-17 loss to the Eagles on Sunday night. His process of mentally replaying certain plays and every memorable mistake was perceptible even before he admitted out loud to doing so.
“It's just more frustrating, because I just really feel like we beat ourselves,” he said, “and you know you just play back on the mistakes that I've made and some other guys might've made and just know we could play a much cleaner football game. That's the frustrating part.”
The mistakes Parsons is referring to include glaring and uncharacteristic blunders as well as subtle yet costly errors that may have been due to the Cowboys' defense having to adjust in real-time to the Eagles' RPO attack, which has been stupefying defenses week after week.
One of the mistakes in the uncharacteristic blunder category was a neutral zone infraction by Dante Fowler late in the first quarter. The Eagles had a fourth-and-4 and used a hard count to try to draw someone offsides. Fowler fell for it, jumped early, and gave the Eagles an easy first-and-goal at the five yard line. Had it not been for the new set of downs, the Eagles may have kicked a field goal instead of continuing that drive for a touchdown and ultimately taking a 7-0 lead.
Another uncharacteristic mistake was committed by Parsons himself.
With 8:10 left in the third quarter and the Eagles at second-and-10 on their own 30, Micah drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert. Although the penalty gave the Eagles 15 yards and a first down, that drive eventually ended with a punt. That could explain why Parsons' penalty drew much less criticism than Fowler's, but Micah still acknowledged the need to avoid such behavior saying, “I've got to be accountable for that and not give up the first down for my team.”
Accountability was the theme of Micah's postgame statements. Although the Cowboys were not without their share of mistakes on the offensive side of the ball, most notably the three interceptions thrown by quarterback Cooper Rush, Parsons spoke on what he perceives as the responsibility of the defense to do more to help the offense.
“We have to do better for them. I felt like we let them down today. It's weighing on me heavy because the type of pride I hold for this defense, the type of standard that I hold for us, it hurts a lot to lose this type of game.”
Looking Forward to the Rematch
Always one to hold himself accountable, extract as many lessons as possible, and work to improve week over week, Micah Parsons shared a message of determination through his postgame comments.
Even amidst the emotions and ruminations of a fresh loss, he managed to communicate three improvements he expects to see in the Cowboys' defense that should make for an exciting rematch when the Eagles visit AT&T Stadium on Christmas Eve:
- On overall execution, Parsons said, “I told them, ‘We're too good to beat ourselves and we're too good to try to make a play.' The play is going to come to us. We're too good. We've just got to win our one-on-ones. And sometimes in games like this we tend to try to do more just to make that splash play or something like that.”There were far more instances than usual where members of the Cowboys' defense seemed to be trying to make a play instead of letting the big plays happen as a byproduct of their performance. This may have had a detrimental effect on their execution, and it sounds like Parsons intends to rein that in a bit in the future.
- On learning from this loss, Parsons asserted, “We've just all got to take accountability, watch this film and get better from it.” He later added, “Yeah, if you look at the game and watch the film, there wasn't a lot of rush opportunities. It was more everything was RPO. I think they did a great job [with the] scheme. They executed better than us today.” The defense has been praised for their pass rush this season, and the Eagles found a way around that. They relied heavily on RPO, and the Cowboys did not have enough answers on Sunday night.Micah Parsons seemed to be neutralized on some plays and hesitant on others. Now that they've experienced this firsthand and can study this scheme, they should be able to prepare an entirely new approach for the rematch.
- “We've got a long way to go, but you don't win championships in six games,” Micah said regarding the defense's need to continue making improvements.Achieving the result that the Cowboys and so many of their fans are hoping for will take dedication and tenacity. This game was just one part of a longer story for which the ending has yet to be written. It's so important, especially for key players like Parsons, to keep the bigger picture in mind as they work to become what they need to be in order to see success in the coming months.
When asked about the upcoming rematch, Parsons said that he's “really looking forward to it.” Considering the improvements we're likely to see in the Cowboys' defense and the healthy players expected to return for the offense, anyone paying attention to this rivalry should be eagerly looking forward to the rematch as well.