MIAMI** – For one rare moment, the media crush that follows a Dallas Cowboys game raced past three returning starters in favor of an unsung rookie.
It was totally justified on this occasion, as the unsung rookie in question was Tyler Patmon, and he was coming off a game that saw him force three turnovers and score a touchdown. In the cramped space of the visitor's locker room, reporters and cameras nudged past Brandon Carr, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox – Patmon's locker mates – in order to get a word with the rookie.
"It just shows that I'm going to take advantage of my opportunities," Patmon said. "God blessed me with a great opportunity, the coaches trusted me enough to get in and obviously I came up and made some plays."
If that sounds slightly understated, it probably is. On a night when the Cowboys managed just one offensive touchdown, Patmon made several of the biggest plays of the game, accounting for one of two Dallas touchdowns.
With the Dolphins backed up on their goal line in the fourth quarter, Matt Moore put a receiver in motion to his right for a short pass into the flat – only to see Patmon take it the other way for six.
"That was something we had seen on film – when they come behind the quarterback like that in motion, and instincts just took over and I broke on the ball," Patmon said. "The quarterback gave me a chance to make a play on it.
These weren't just garbage time moments, though. Patmon showed on Miami's second possession of the game, when he forced a fumble from Dolphins tight end Dion Sims and killed a Miami drive that was nearing the Dallas red zone.
"It's just something we do every day in practice," Patmon said. "Coach Marinelli, he preaches it – 'the ball, the ball, the ball' – and I was able to get my hat on the ball and was fortunate enough that it came out."
The Dolphins had actually reached the red zone the next time Patmon struck. Ryan Tannehill led Miami on an 11-play drive to open the third quarter, all the way to the Dallas 19. The Dolphins starter lofted a fade to Brian Hartline at the nine-yard line, only to see Patmon come away with the jump ball.
"It was a great disguise by our defense and a great rush by our D-Line," he said. "The quarterback maybe misread the coverage and threw it right to me – those are the plays I've got to make."
The chances are slim for any undrafted rookie to make a Week 1 roster. If those odds weren't long enough, Patmon himself pointed out another reminder: the Cowboys asked him to try out during their May rookie camp, rather than sign him outright. [embedded_ad]
"Coming in, not just as an undrafted free agent but as a tryout guy, I had a point to make," he said. "I had to come in every day, prove myself every day and I still do."
If Carr, Church and Wilcox had their way, it certainly sounds like Patmon would earn a roster spot. The trio, largely ignored by reporters for at least one night, whooped and hollered their praise at the rookie throughout several interviews.
Asked if one big night had earned him a place for the regular season, though, Patmon once against wasn't fooled.
"No – I've got to keep going," he said. "I made a couple mistakes out there that I've got to improve on and just keep pushing."