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Cowboys Rookie LB Micah Parsons Stars In Loss to Raiders

Micah Parsons leads all rookies with nine sacks and should be a favorite for defensive awards

Dallas Cowboys do-it-all linebacker Micah Parsons already is the front-runner to take home Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. How about taking it a step beyond and putting him in the driver's seat for NFL Defensive Player of the Year? 

Dallas fell short in a 33-30 overtime loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving afternoon at AT&T Stadium. Despite the setback, Parsons had another noteworthy performance for the 7-4 Cowboys. 

Award voters are surely paying attention. 

Parsons finished with only five tackles, but he consistently pressured Raiders quarterback Derek Carr for four quarters. The Penn State product tallied five total QB hits and a dozen pressures. In fact, he's matured so quickly into an "established star'' that he merits attention when he rips the refs for their over-participation on Thanksgiving.

“We should be playing football, not tag,'' Micah said of the Dallas franchise record of 166 penalty yards here. "When are you going to let us truly play?”

Parsons' sack in overtime left Las Vegas with a third-and-long, and the Cowboys hopeful of getting the ball back. Instead, the Raiders picked up a first down thanks to another in series of pass interference calls against Dallas cornerback Anthony Brown. 

With the ball at the Dallas 24, the Raiders (6-5) were in position to end it. Daniel Carlson drilled a 29-yard field goal to send the visitors back to Sin City with a win. 

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Dallas' downfall was in large part due to penalties. The Cowboys were flagged 14 times for a franchise-record 166 yards, including four against Brown in coverage.

Parsons, meanwhile, was solid defensively. Just as he's been throughout his record-setting rookie season. 

According to NFL.com, Parsons remains the top pass-rusher of 2021, registering the league's best QB pressure rate at 19 percent. His nine sacks are the most among all first-year players, and it remains the most by a Cowboys rookie since DeMarcus Ware in 2005. 

The versatility Parsons brings is a blessing in disguise for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. His ability to play the edge allows him to work from the defensive end position with little hesitation. Once  DeMarcus Lawrence returns, Parsons can return to being primarily a linebacker. 

Not that he won't line up on the edge here and there, ready to strike. 

The Cowboys didn't seem to be in the market for a linebacker when selecting Parsons No. 12 last April. It proved to be the right call, and he'll be a staple of Dallas defense for the long time.

And maybe a future Defensive Player of the Year.

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