Time heals all wounds is certainly a cliche, but it also appears to be the case regarding Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl edge rusher Micah Parsons and his willingness to talk about his team's 48-32 NFC Super Wild Card Weekend home loss against the seventh-seeded Green Bay Packers.
Dallas got demolished, trailing 27-0 at one point before scoring on the final play of the first half. Seventeen days after the playoff defeat, Parsons broke his silence on hisHe explained the reason it took him that long to talk about was because he felt embarrassed to show his face in public.
At Super Bowl LVIII's radio row in Las Vegas, not only was Parsons open to speaking about that game, but he also felt comfortable enough to talk about with one of the Packers players most responsible for ending the Cowboys' 2023 season: Green Bay quarterback Jordan Love. Love cooked Parsons and the Cowboys defense all game, throwing for 272 passing yards and three touchdowns on 16 for 21 passing, which earned him a 157.2 passer rating, 1.1 points away from a perfect 158.3 rating in the Packers' victory. That 157.2 passer rating now ranks as the single-game Green Bay postseason record. His 13 yards per pass attempt are also the most by a Packers quarterback ever in a playoff game.
There aren't many players who would desire to talk about their season-ending playoff loss with the opponent responsible for defeating them, but when Parsons asked Love to detail what the Packers' game plan was that allowed Green Bay to tear them limb from limb, the quarterback obliged.
"The key for us going into the game was we needed to run the ball," Love said on "The Edge with Micah Parsons" podcast. "That was a huge thing. Obviously we played y'all the year before [in 2022], and I feel like we ran the ball pretty well [Packers running back Aaron Jones totaled 138 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in a 31-28 overtime win]. Just going against y'all, I'm not trying to talk, but y'all linebackers [in the playoff game], I think y'all had a defensive back playing linebacker [the Cowboys did convert Markquese Bell from safety to linebacker in 2023]. That was our goal, to run the ball. That was going to set everything else up.
"Obviously, I think y'all's biggest weapon is y'all's pass rush. Great defensive backs over there too, but I feel like they rely on the pass rush," Love continued. "When you have a great pass rush, you think a quarterback is going to get the ball out his hand quickly. We were able to take advantage of that by getting some chips on you, slowing you down a little bit. [Dallas defensive end] D. Lawrence, slow him down a little bit. I knew I was going to have to hang in that pocket, take a couple hits from you, take a couple hits from those guys. The guys we have at receiver, I was confident they were going to go out there and do what they needed to do against y'all's defensive backs."
Jones also dominated Dallas along with Love in this postseason, running for playoff career highs of 118 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries, an incredibly efficient 5.6 yards per carry. That output tied the NFL all-time record for rushing touchdowns in a road playoff game, rushing touchdowns in a wild-card round game and rushing touchdowns in a Packers postseason game.
However with Love detailing how Parsons and the Dallas pass rush was their biggest weapon, both Love and Parsons' also lauded Jones' impact that day as a pass-blocker. Jones' efforts, along with the Packers offensive line, resulted in the three-time All-Pro having the worst game of his three-year career. He registered one quarterback pressure and one quarterback hit on 19 pass rushes, Parsons' lowest pressure rate in a game of his career, according to the NFL's Next Gen Stats. His only pressure came when he was unblocked, and Packers right tackle Zach Tom shut him out with no pressures in their nine matchups. Parsons may have been speaking about not being vocal following the loss when he said "I disappeared completely," speaking about the loss in January but that line also can be used to sum up how he played in that playoff game.
"Our game plan had specific playcalls where we were chipping with a tight end or running back, chipping you" Love said. "Jonesy in that game, he did some phenomenal stuff. There were some times we were doing some play-action stuff where ... he would feel you beat one of our offensive linemen, and he would just instinctively go to chip you and help in protection."
Parsons agreed, saying "It was unbelievable. On most of those inside rushes, he [Jones] wasn't supposed to be there."
"He was not," Love said smiling. "That's just the player he is, and where he's at in the league to know how good of a rusher you are and be able to pick you up and help me have some time back there. It was a couple of them if he didn't do that, I don't know. ... He was freestyling out there, picking it up and doing some great things. Jonesy isn't the biggest dude, but he has a lot of heart."
Jones himself chimed into the conversation on Saturday via Twitter, simply saying "Gotta protect my QB."
Next postseason, Parsons and the Dallas defense certainly has to do much more to protect his quarterback Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense if the team wants to make a deep run.