FRISCO, Texas – All season long, C.J. Goodwin has been one of the most underrated players on the roster for his week-to-week impact on special teams.
Through 15 games, Goodwin leads the Cowboys in special teams tackles. In Week 2, he charted the team's dramatic comeback win over Atlanta with a near-impossible onside kick recovery. In November, he had a 73-yard catch-and-punt-return on a successful fake punt against Pittsburgh that led to a field goal.
And in Sunday's win over Philadelphia, the fifth-year veteran cornerback's speed was on display yet again. Goodwin got his first defensive snaps of the season in a critical role: stopping Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts from beating Dallas with his feet.
On the Eagles' opening touchdown drive, Hurts had two carries for 23 yards on a scramble and a designed zone read play. The Cowboys' defense adjusted and appeared to use Goodwin as a spy on the dynamic rookie in a sub-package.
"C.J. is someone that we hold in high regard, and just to have the opportunity to have him on the field and playing that package is really, really a credit to him and just focusing on what we're trying to get done in certain situations," Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Hurts had five carries for 53 yards in the first half but four carries for only 16 yards after halftime. The Cowboys' defensive line did a good job with their rush lanes, preventing Hurts from finding seams outside the pocket. And Goodwin, who played 16 snaps, was effective in his role, too.
"We talked about using C.J. a few times this season in the same capacity and for one reason or another it just didn't happen. But I thought yesterday was a good time and we got some real good downs out of it," defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said. "If he didn't chase him down it was nice to keep him in the pocket. And I think after a few times that he saw that C.J. was chasing him down, I think it kept the quarterback in the pocket more often than we'd like to think just because he knew if he got out of there he was going to get run down quickly.
"A lot of teams have a player that they assign to the quarterback, but C.J. was pretty unique in that he can get on you real quick. And that makes a difference as opposed to just having someone who's athletic and can run well that doesn't really know how to do those things. And C.J.'s got kind of a natural knack for it because of what he does in the kicking game. But I thought he did an outstanding job."