See ball, get ball. It's a simple enough mantra for defensive players in the NFL, but it often proves more difficult than mere mortals anticipate. It's a good thing for the Dallas Cowboys that it's to be determined if Trevon Diggs is actually human, because he's certainly not playing like someone birthed on the third rock from the sun. The former second-round pick is off to a scalding start to his NFL career, and Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles were victimized -- again -- by Diggs on Monday night in the Cowboys shellacking of their bitter division rival at AT&T Stadium.
Hurts, a former teammate of Diggs' at Alabama, was already off to a rough start to the evening thanks to the Cowboys defense on the whole, but one decision in particular will haunt him this week and beyond. With the Cowboys leading 20-7 at the beginning of the third quarter, Hurts dropped back and took aim at another former Alabama product -- Heisman trophy winner and rookie 10th-overall pick DeVonta Smith -- on second-and-10 from Dallas' 47-yard-line, to disastrous results.
Diggs jumped the route and not only grabbed the interception, but took it 59 yards to the kitchen table. And, for him, it was made all the better knowing it fulfilled a pregame promise he made to his son.
"He was like, 'I want you to get an interception and a touchdown,'" Diggs said of his son, via the team's website. "I kept my promise."
That he did, and more.
Diggs also had a critical tackle and pass break up in the fourth quarter and effectively left both Hurts and Smith on bricks, the latter being targeted a total of six times but reeling in only three catches for a total of 28 yards with no touchdowns. And in dissecting Smith's evening further, he totaled only nine yards before grabbing a 19-yarder that occurred when Diggs was not defending him, finishing the evening with just two catch against Diggs for the aforementioned nine combined yards.
"He's clearly on a roll right now," McCarthy told media of Diggs after the game. "He's in a zone match-up wise. He's taking the best receiver. He's playing at a high level -- phenomenal hand-eye coordination.
"Just the way he breaks on the ball. He's got as fine of hands that I've seen on the back end."
It's a sentiment echoed by owner Jerry Jones, in a big way.
"He has outstanding instincts, football instincts," Jones told 105.3FM the Fan on Tuesday. "And, of course, he's a little brother, Stefon Diggs is his brother, and really has a receiver mentality when it comes to the ball. You hear it from coaches. You hear it all the time.
"Guys, when the ball is in the air, that's just as much your ball as it is the potential offensive player, receiver, or back. Go for the ball. Make the play on the ball. Own it. Call it your own, all of that.
"Well, Diggs is just absolutely -- I joked last night -- he's a receiver faking it as a D-back. He sees that ball. He knows, has a sense of where it's coming, just like a receiver. ... The good news is he's so talented that he has real potential to expand, get better."
Additionally, for Hurts, his attempts to overcome Diggs at the NFL level continue to be an exercise in futility, with Diggs having intercepted him twice in their first two meetings as professionals.
It's almost like Diggs knows Hurts like the back of his hand, because he does -- a combination of their time together at the collegiate level and some quality NFL homework on the Eagles quarterback.
And as for the pick-six, well, Diggs says even Smith knew what was coming when Hurts let the ball go.
"I had read Jalen's three-step [drop], his quick-game read, and the receiver had a short split, so I was expecting him to run an out," Diggs said. "I was seeing them every day and at Alabama we'd go ones-on-ones and we're competing every day. DeVonta knew what I wanted to do, and I knew what he wanted to do. So it's fair game. It was fun."
Diggs now has six interceptions in his first 14 career starts and three of those have come in the first three games of the 2021 season, matching legendary defensive back Everson Walls for most interceptions by a Cowboys player through that stretch of time. His pick-six was the first for the Cowboys since Byron Jones grabbed one in 2017, and while it's unlikely Diggs continues his current pace of reeling in a possible 17 interceptions this season, he's already playing at both a Pro Bowl and an All-Pro level. And he's also taken a shine to punishing the Eagles, with four of his career INTs now split between Hurts (2) and the now-traded Carson Wentz (2).
Still, he believes he has room to improve, a notion that likely makes Hurts nervous about future meetings.
"I'm a new corner, so I have to put in that work," he said. "A lot of these other corners have a lot of years on me. I have to put in that work just to be good or even better than them. I've got to put in those hours. I've got to put in that time.
"It's just something that my family comes from, just working hard and grinding."
That, and keeping his word to his son -- two things Diggs is very good at doing.