The day before Sunday’s game in Green Bay against the Packers, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons made headlines for beating Hall of Famer quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his struggling teammates, who lost five straight games, with a cockroach compared.
“My grandma told me, ‘If you see a roach and it’s fooling around, do you step on it and bury it, or let it rebuild itself and come back to life?'” Parsons told Yahoo Sports. “You step on it. I live life with no regrets. In this game, you must have no regrets [or] it emerges to bite you.”
After Sunday’s 31-28 overtime loss, which saw the Packers rush for 207 yards 39 times and Rodgers caught them up from a 28-14 deficit, a frustrated and disappointed Parsons found himself calling his defensive teammates over selfish and undisciplined play and nothing showed accountability.
Parsons was particularly upset with the run defense, which has been a weakness of the Cowboys defense all season.
The Cowboys defense ranks 11th overall but 29th against the run.
Opponents choose to run at the Cowboys to avoid them taking on the league’s #1 pass rush. And two weeks after the Chicago Bears rushed 43 times for 239 yards against the Cowboys, the Packers broke the 200-yard barrier again with a season-high in tries and a season-low in passes from their future Hall of Famer quarterback
“Nobody’s just going to allow us to rush, nobody’s going to allow us to be who we are,” said Parsons, the team’s lead sacker, who spent more time playing run defense than the passer against the Packers to rush. “We have to put out this fire. Until we put out this fire, we will continue to see it. If people want to keep doing their own thing, we’ll be looking at that all year. We have to show this. We must be accountable. We must stay in our gaps. We must stop the escape. It will be a long year before we do that.”
“Something like this shouldn’t happen. Bad things tend to repeat themselves. We need to clean this up and stop it now.”
The situation with the run defense is acute because the Cowboys, who saw their two-game winning streak, broke up and are now 6-3 in third place in the NFC East. will face a litany of strong running teams next Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings and star running back Dalvin Cook.
They face the Giants and Saquon Barkley at Thanksgiving, followed by the Indianapolis Colts and Jonathan Taylor, the Houston Texans and Damien Pierce, and the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry.
And that’s not even including the undefeated Eagles and their college-style attack, led by quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The blueprint is already there. The Packers made the best use of it because they were able to complement their success on the ground, with Rodgers completing 14 of 20 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He was only fired twice.
Aaron Jones had 24 rushes for 138 yards and a touchdown. AJ Dillon had 65 yards on 13 carries.
The Packers attacked the edges of the Cowboys’ running defense, cutting and bullying them down the middle.
“I think the biggest thing is that they played small ball,” said coach Mike McCarthy. “They attacked us in the running game and had success, had over 200 yards rushing. This is the calling card against us. As we walked in we knew they had two backs going against us. We have to get better at that and we will continue to work on it. I thought they were trying to stay away from our pass rush as much as possible and taking selective shots. We’ll see it every week. Everyone will try to play the ball against us because that’s how we’re built.”
Because of their construction and because of their undisciplined play, says Parsons.
And the Cowboys can’t put out that fire, any hopes they have of making this a special season, spearheaded by a supposedly crucial defense, will also burst into flames.
This story was originally published Nov 14, 2022 7:58 am.