Cowboys’ Micah Parsons on rookie season: ‘I’m going to remember that we lost in the first round’

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Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons entered the 2021 season with huge expectations placed on him as the 12th overall pick. He not only lived up to them, but he also exceeded them by being the spearhead of a Dallas Cowboys’ defense that led the NFL in turnovers and was the best at stopping opposing offenses on third down.

The stat sheet for Parsons was outstanding with 84 tackles (20 tackles for loss), 13 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, and three passes defensed. It led to Parsons garnering a bevy of honors which most recently included him winning the 2021 Butkus Award as the NFL’s top linebacker. However, what will stick in the mind of Parsons the most about his inaugural season in the pros is the Cowboys’ home exit from the playoffs.

“I’m going to remember that we lost in the first round,” to the San Francisco 49ers, Parsons said at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas via ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin.

After a 12-5 campaign, that certainly isn’t what Parsons and the Cowboys thought would happen. Unfortunately it did, and it marked the 11th consecutive playoff appearance in which the Cowboys failed to reach the NFC Championship Game, an NFL record.

That isn’t ideal for a Cowboys franchise with 14 appearances in said game, second all-time in the NFC to the 49ers. Parsons mentioned what the goal is for the Cowboys in 2022, and it wasn’t just playing one extra game like this season.

“The expectation is to make it back to the game, get back into the dance, get back into the playoffs, and go way further than we did this year,” said Parsons. “The standard, I think, you know, people had us not even making it so something people were good with that but none of us was ok with the way we went out.”

The 2021 season continued a nearly three-decade period of frustration for the Cowboys and their fan base. They haven’t made it past the divisional round since their last Super Bowl title in 1995, and this latest failure may have been their best shot since that time to make a deep playoff run.

It will be a challenge for the Cowboys to repeat what they did this season with a plethora of free agents to make decisions on, which makes the egg they laid in the playoffs even more disappointing. They do have the best roster in the NFC East so they will be expected to be in the playoffs for some time to come, but every season has its difficulties with injuries and now COVID so it isn’t a foregone conclusion.

As the page turns to the 2022 season, Parsons and company will look to end the postseason agony. No longer can they accept mediocrity and being a punchline. Instead, the Cowboys have to capitalize on the chances they are given to go far in the playoffs seeing as it’s so tough to do year in and year out.

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