Thursday, January 20, 2022

Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs reaches individual goal in win over Giants, says ‘best defense’ is in Dallas

Trevon Diggs is one step from tying franchise history. in only his second season at the NFL level, he’s already proven himself arguably the best ballhawking cornerback in the league, and he sent his usual reminder when he took on the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. With quarterback Mike Glennon attempting to extend a play in the fourth quarter, rolling out to his right to escape pressure and heaving a throw toward wideout Kenny Golladay in the end zone, Diggs was able to beat Golladay to the spot and grab his 10th interception of the season.

It was initially ruled incomplete, but the ruling on the field was overturned after head coach Mike McCarthy threw the challenge flag and, with that, Diggs achieved his first mission of the 2021 season: a double digit INT tally.

“I’m happy I reached it, but I didn’t know that I was going to reach it,” Diggs told media after the game, via the team’s website. “It’s just a blessing and I’m truly just happy that I can represent the Star, represent my team and go out there and give it all I’ve got.”

If he grabs one more over the course of the final three regular season games, he’ll tie the Cowboys single-season interception record set by legendary defensive back Everson Walls (11) in 1981. He is now tied with Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Renfro, who reeled in 10 interceptions in 1969. With two of the remaining three opponents battling throught issues at the quarterback position, and with Kyler Murray in a slump that’s seen him throw three interceptions to only one touchdown in his last two outings, Diggs will presumably have multiple chances to step past Walls in the history books.

From there, the next bar would be to see if he can reach the incomparable mark of 14 interceptions in a single season — a mark set by “Night Train Lane” during his rookie season in 1952.

“It’s special,” said Malik Hooker, who had an INT of his own on Sunday, of Diggs’ historic run on interceptions. “We always try to compete within ourselves. At the end of the way, we know we have a great room, not even just room, a great defense. We always make little competitions within ourselves to see who can be the best player, great player, whatever the case may be. 

“He’s been showing his butt every week. Nine picks, 10 picks, there’s nothing really to say about it because he is the player he is. He shows up every week on film. He locks down a lot of number one receivers. He’s young. I just tell him to keep going. 

“Whatever he’s doing off the field, keep doing it.

The defensive line being whole, and a terror, only helps his chances, as Glennon can now attest.

“On that play, the D-line did a great job because they had him,” Diggs said of what led to his 10th interception. “I thought they were going to sack him and then he got out of the pocket and he just threw it up, and he thought that his player was going to catch it. I knew I caught it. I had possession.”

Having achieved his first individual goal of the season, what’s next in that regard? 

“I’ve got to set new goals now,” he said. “I’m going to set another one and see if I can accomplish that. But as long as I do what I do on the field, come to the game, come to work, come ready to play, the sky’s the limit.”

It’s fairly obvious the more immediate goal is to walk past Walls and then potentially Lane, but it’ll be interesting to see what Diggs sets for himself outside of those. With the postseason speeding toward him and the Cowboys, you can bet he’s working on some missions to accomplish in January that will help the team’s chances of possibly playing in February. And his efforts join those of rookie phenom Micah Parsons and a resurgent defensive line led by Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore — with safety Malik Hooker finally finding his groove to combine with what’s been stellar play by Jayron Kearse at the back end of the defense.

That’s a lot of firepower in front of and behind Diggs, a unit that’s top-5 in the league under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and has apparently still not reached its ceiling, a terrifying thought for opposing offenses when considering they lead the lead with 23 interceptions along with 12 forced fumbles (8 recovered) and three starters capable of posting double-digit sack numbers.

Grasp for a moment, if you can, that the Cowboys have gone from being one of the worst defenses in franchise history to being one that is arguably one of the best the organization has ever seen — flipping the script in just one offseason.

At this point, Quinn could probably run for mayor in Dallas.

“It’s amazing just to be on a team with a strong defense,” said Lawrence, who is on a tear since returning from injured reserve to start the month of December. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Diggs agrees, and isn’t afraid to take it one step further, as the Cowboys angle for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

“We’re the best defense for sure.”

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