NEW ORLEANS, La. – The questions are phrased differently, but essentially Micah Parsons hears the same thing every week.
This time, cramped into a tiny press conference just off the visitors' locker room in the Caesars Superdome, Parsons was asked if he had exceeded even his own expectations for his first season of professional football.
With each impressive performance, that questions gets more justifiable – and yet, Parsons' answer stays the same.
"I ain't exceed anything at all -- very high standards for myself," he said.
It's fitting timing for a guy who was just named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for November. And in his first game of December, Parsons kept the train rolling.
Going against one of the most athletic quarterbacks he'll see all season, Parsons harried Taysom Hill throughout the night, totaling five tackles and two quarterback hits. Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn confirmed that the rookie was assigned to account for Hill's running ability on at least eight or nine occasions.
"I feel like the more the season went on, you could see his speed start coming alive in the games," said DeMarcus Lawrence. "He's a fast player, excellent instincts, he's a go-getter. He's the lone lion."
The speed and instincts showed up again on the first play of the fourth quarter, when Parsons fetched Hill on a play action fake and turned a simple rollout on 3rd-and-2 into an 11-yard loss.
"Any time you're backed up and you have a chance to get off the field, somebody's got to make the play," Parsons said. "Why not me?"
The sack gave Parsons 10 on the season, making him just the 10th NFL player to reach that milestone this year. More importantly, it moved the Saints out of field goal range and prevented them from turning 20-10 scoreline into a one-score situation.
Parsons showed off his athleticism in other ways, as well. Hill tested him on an out-and-up to Kenny Stills late in the second quarter. Tailing a wide receiver on a 20-yard throw, Parsons caught up to the throw and dove to get a finger on it. The ricochet popped into the air long enough for Jayron Kearse to dive and drag his toes for a game-changing interception that would lead to a Dallas touchdown.
"Micah ran with the guy, the ball came off his hands, and I looked the ball off his hands," Kearse said. "The rest is history. I can't really explain it."
Another game down, another milestone crossed. Maybe the next time he's asked about it, Micah Parsons will have surpassed his expectation, though that seems unlikely. Instead, Parsons said he's focused on the home stretch, and the Cowboys' goals more than his own – all of which feel very attainable.
"I don't think it's time for me to sit on my couch, smiling, eating Cheetos," he said. "I'm trying to do something way bigger than anybody thought we could do this year."