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Micah Parsons Provides Bright Spot In Stunning Loss


ARLINGTON, Texas – A giant wasp buzzed angrily at the podium during Micah Parsons' postgame interview, forcing the rookie linebacker to step out of its path for a moment.

"Just not my day," Parsons said when he returned to the microphone.

It wasn't the Cowboys' day, for sure.

The Denver Broncos dismantled Dallas inside AT&T Stadium, 30-16, and threatened the first road shutout of a Cowboys team in 30 years until the final four minutes of regulation.

The Cowboys' top-ranked offense was out of sync all game. The new-look defense gave up a season-high 190 rushing yards to Denver, which dominated time of possession, 41:12 to 18:48.

Still, Parsons was a bright spot in the stunning loss.

A week after winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week as the first rookie in NFL history with at least 10 tackles and four for loss in a single game, the first-round draft pick delivered a similar stat line Sunday: 10 tackles (three for loss) and a team-high three quarterback hits.

He also added 2.5 sacks to increase his season total to 4.5, a half-sack behind defensive end Randy Gregory (5.0) for the team lead.

"We have a lot of guys who are rookies or second-year (players) that are playing and playing well. Micah is one of them," Gregory said. "I said it before, and I'll say it again, he can do whatever he wants in this league. We ask a lot from him. He felt he didn't have a good game a couple of games ago, and he's making a lot of progress. We need that if we want to win some more games."

As usual, Parsons moved around the defensive front Sunday, alternating between an on-the-line rusher and an off-the-ball linebacker.

He made an impact on the Broncos' first offensive snap, collapsing the pocket with a rush off the edge that helped defensive tackle Carlos Watkins sack quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for an eight-yard loss.

All of Parsons' sacks were impactful, too. He brought down Bridgewater on third-and-2 from the Dallas 29, forcing Denver into a 53-yard field goal. He and cornerback Jourdan Lewis combined for a sack on the final play of the first half with Denver trying to extend its 16-0 lead.

And Parsons' third-quarter sack forced a Broncos punt that was blocked and then technically recovered by Denver because the ball was touched by Cowboys rookie cornerback Nahshon Wright past the line of scrimmage.

Parsons' 5.0 total sacks through eight games in 2021 are the most by any Cowboys rookie through his first eight games and the second-most by any NFL rookie defender this season. It's a part of his game developed throughout the season, partly out of necessity. Starting defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has been on injured reserve for the past seven games with a foot fracture that required surgery.

"It all starts with details throughout the week," Parsons said. "Coach Q (Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn) puts a lot of time with me throughout the week: dial up rush plans, dialing up individual time with me. So I think each week I'm getting better and better and learning more about being a pass rusher, timing, things like that. I think it's just growing for me and it's going to keep adding to our game plan."

That said, Parsons was more focused on the defense's overall performance Sunday than his own.

"Obviously it was a much longer game for us, but we've got to find a way to get off the field. There's no excuse for that," he said. "There's things that we practiced on and we didn't execute. That's the thing, you can have a game plan, everything can be right throughout the week but at the end of the day you have to go out there and execute and dominate and I don't think we were able to do that."

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