Maybe they’d still be at 1-1 after Sunday’s 20-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at AT&T Stadium. Maybe more heroes (other than the unsung ones that stepped up anyways) would have emerged to secure the win.
But aside from Parsons’ special pass-rushing prowess, it’s the philosophical and sometimes biblical way he approaches challenges that has bled into the Dallas defense and the rest of the team that has made all the difference. Without his physical and mental presence, the Cowboys could likely be staring at 0-2 instead of celebrating a Week 2 upset over the reigning AFC champions.
And, maybe, they proved along the way that they’re the best defense in the NFL. It’s not a surprise what Parsons thinks.
“I don’t care what the offense put up, they could have zero,” he said. “But we gotta do our part. And I think we’re doing a damn good job at doing that. We hold two of the most elite offenses to one touchdown last two games and making them earn every little bit of it. That’s how you be relentless and that’s what we’ve been preaching.”
Indeed, the Dallas defense - with Parsons at the forefront - has been one of the league’s best through the first two weeks of play against a Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Bucs team and a Bengals offense unit that was a drive away from being Super Bowl champs in February. So far this season, the Cowboys are one of four teams (San Francisco, Denver, and Tampa Bay) to hold their first two opponents to under 20 points, but are the only team to do it against two squads that made the postseason in 2021.
The Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings could join this short list in their Monday night matchups, though that remains to be seen.
Said coach Mike McCarthy: "He wreaks havoc. He's the definition of 'elite.''
Preaching relentlessness is a often a right-minded approach with positive intentions, but one that never actually comes to fruition for many teams. It might be early, but look no further than coordinator Dan Quinn’s group as an exception.
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And speaking of preaching, Parsons used a timely visit to church Saturday to get exactly what he needed to hear ahead of Week 2.
“I actually went to chapel yesterday and the chapel man said ‘You have to go through tests to get to your testimony,’” Parsons said. “And when I heard that I was like wow, we going through all these injuries … so sometimes you’ve gotta go through some stuff to get where you wanna go.“
If the Bengals offensive line was Parsons’ test, he passed with flying colors. He bludgeoned a reeling Cincinnati offensive line to the tune of two sacks and five quarterback hits on Joe Burrow. Parsons’ disruptiveness gave the Bengals no choice but to double-team him, which made room for guys like Dorance Armstrong to tally two sacks of his own.
There’s a long journey ahead, but count on Parsons to say all the right things to keep the mindset in the locker room focused on what the next couple of paddles through the storm will look like.
“Right now, we’re still going through the storm,” he said. “But as we’re going through the storm, there’s gonna be light at the end of the tunnel and I think that’s where we’re headed.”
And the next trek? A journey to East Rutherford to take on the surprising and undefeated New York Giants on Monday Night Football for a matchup in Week 3. Another week means another chance for Parsons and the Cowboys defense to prove they’re one of the league’s best.
You can follow Zach Dimmitt on Twitter at @ZachDimmitt7
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