The 2022 NFL Divisional Round starts today, but we’re waiting one more day for the Dallas Cowboys kickoff Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, let’s dive deep into an unlikely player to have a massive moment to help Dallas win the game Sunday.
September 18th, 2011, in the second game of the season, former Cowboys wide receiver Jesse Holley — the team’s third guy on the depth chart — came up huge with a 77-yard reception on the first offensive play in overtime against the 49ers.
After a three-and-out by the 49ers offense, Holley wasn’t supposed to be on the field for the first series, but he replaced Miles Austin.
His 77-yard reception to the 1-yard line set up the game-winning 19-yard field goal by Dan Bailey.
Obviously, this does not correlate with the game Sunday. Still, I brought this up because I want to know who an unlikely hero for this Cowboys team will be in the Divisional Round against the Niners.
Someone not named Tony Pollard, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons, or Trevon Diggs needs to make a game-changing play.
So, whose it’s going to be?
I’ve got my eyes on the three players below.
The first player is Anthony Barr. Why? Because Kyle Shanahan and his offense will attack the middle of the field.
Shannahan will try to get favorable matchups for DeeBo Samuel, Christian McCaffery, and George Kittle. With Parsons on the edge and Leighton Vander Esch handling the middle, it leaves Barr on an island.
Anthony Barr has been solid since signing with the Cowboys in August. In the Wild Card game against the Buccaneers, he logged three tackles.
He will need to be ready for a fast offense against the 49ers.
Johnathan Hankins isn’t exactly a Jesse Holley-type player, as he is a starter helping to clog up the middle. What he can do, though, is make a game-changing play to help the Cowboys win their Divisional Round game.
Hankins will be a massive factor on Sunday.
The 49ers will try to run the ball down the Cowboys’ throats with CMC. Maybe Hankins can break through the middle, prevent a big run, stuff him behind the line, and, who knows; he could force a fumble and give the Cowboys momentum.
He finished the Wild Card game with two tackles and a sack on Tom Brady. We will need some more of that this weekend.
I wouldn’t be able to make a post like this without mentioning a wide receiver.
Like Holley was, Noah Brown is third or fourth on the depth chart. Brown has become an afterthought since Dallas signed TY Hilton in early December.
Brown is hit or miss, and we saw him make some big-time plays early in the season when the wide receiver room was weak.
At the same time, he still has some hiccups, like the drop against the Jaguars in overtime, and we saw him unable to secure the onside kick in the Wild Card round last week.
Could you imagine a big third down late in the game, and Brown runs past the vulnerable Niners secondary?
With so much focus on Lamb, Hilton, and Gallup, he could get a favorable matchup and create some magic.
So, Cowboys fans, will we see one of these guys create some magic like in 2011 and help the Cowboys advance to their first NFC title game in 30 years?