Micah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys' defense upheld their end of the bargain against the Kansas City Chiefs. They held Patrick Mahomes and his high-flying stable of offensive weapons to only 19 points and Mahomes himself contributed no touchdowns to the cause, but instead found himself being introduced to Parsons on two occasions by way of two sacks and a forced fumble the Cowboys recovered.
If you would've told Dak Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy they'd get that type of defensive effort at Arrowhead Stadium, including a timely interception by safety Jayron Kearse, they would've presumed a likely victory.
Unfortunately for them, the offense didn't match serve in any regard, mostly laying an egg and mustering only nine points on three field goals from kicker Greg Zuerlein. It's a defense in Dallas that is without starters DeMarcus Lawrence, Neville Gallimore and Randy Gregory, but also one that played Mahomes like no one was missing at all -- in one of the more impressive displays they've put on all season under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.
"Yeah, I thought we played great defense," Parsons said following the loss to the Chiefs. "That team can give you 45-50 [points] any given day. To hold their explosive offense under 20 points, we definitely did the job, it's good, but it's not good enough."
It wasn't simply that Parsons led the charge with two sacks and a forced fumble -- giving him a team-high eight sacks on the season that puts him in rare air from the standpoint of being a rookie -- it was also in how the Cowboys' defense forced the Chiefs to whiff on eight of their 12 third-down conversion attempts and produce a pedestrian (in comparison to what they're capable of) 5.6 average yards per play on Sunday. But, time and again, the added possessions they awarded their offensive counterparts were squandered with either quick three-and-outs or turnovers that negated the defense's work.
It was a game that never saw the Cowboys always within striking distance offensively, and that's wholly thanks to what Quinn, Parsons and others were able to accomplish against Mahomes and a great play-caller in Eric Bieniemy.
"Losses are always disappointing" said Parsons. "Like I always say, it's an opportunity to learn. There's always an opportunity to get back to the drawing board and get better. I think every week, we learn and we get better, whether we win or lose. We can only keep getting better."
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Parsons was a man possessed, as is always the case through his first 10 games with the Cowboys, and if Mahomes didn't know just how fast and angry he played -- he found out quickly why Parsons shouldn't only be a frontrunner for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but should also be in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
"Speed. Speed. Speed," Parsons said when asked to describe his sack fumble on Mahomes delivered late in the second quarter, with the Chiefs nursing a 16-3 lead. "Got around the edge. Hawked him down and was able to get the ball out. I knew what hand he had the ball in and I was able to punch it out. I think that was a big play for the team."
It was, but it was kneecapped when Prescott dropped back and threw an interception to Charvarius Ward to end the half. All Parsons can do is continue his cosmic trajectory, though, having now logged the most sacks by a rookie since future Hall of Fame linebacker DeMarcus Ware (one of Parson's mentors who also helps him train) racked up eight in 2005. And as a post-script, there are still seven games remaining in the 2021 regular season for Parsons to blow that number out of the water.
"That means I got to keep being who I am and keep working," said the 22-year-old. "Those are all milestones and great milestones to reach, but there's much more out there that I got to reach. And I'm hungry and get more and more hungry every week."
It's this type of play and talk that has Parsons resonating with everyone in the building in Dallas, just ask defensive end Dorance Armstrong.
"That kid is a monster."