Things seemed bleak as TV cameras caught Trevon Diggs being escorted to the Cowboys locker room in the second quarter of the team’s Week 14 tilt versus Houston.
The Pro Bowler had been seen grabbing at his left hand a few plays prior, and as he made his way into the AT&T Stadium tunnel, the Dallas secondary was left frighteningly thin and woefully inexperienced at cornerback.
Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lee had been lost previously for the season. DaRon Bland was a fifth-round rookie, who was preparing for the New Mexico Bowl last year. He had just made his fourth NFL start. Kelvin Joseph was seeing an uptick in snaps in a week that saw Cowboys owner Jerry Jones publicly announce that it was time for the second-year player “to become a man.” Even seldom-used Nahshon Wright was being leaned on for more than special teams.
Not a good time to lose last year’s interceptions leader.
Diggs was able to return to the field after missing one series.
“Whatever. I’m going to just fight through it, get through it, even though it’s hurting. I’ve got to go,” he explained His mindset afterwards.
So Diggs re-entered the game with a new tape job and a self-imposed mission to make an impact… even if he was missing the use of a digit.
“I got nine fingers to catch with. It’ll be alright.”
Diggs, in fact, even said that the shot he took to his left thumb might have been doing him a favor in that he wasn’t able to grip much. He laughed and said that there were no holding penalties or grip.
Thankfully, Diggs’s grip was plenty adequate when a loose ball bounced his way early in the third quarter.
A Donovan Wilson strip and a lucky hop gave Diggs the first fumble recovery of his career… and then the 24-year-old’s past as a college wide receiver kicked in.
Diggs initially moved nearly 15 yards in an unfavorable direction, trying to avoid the Houston offense and to pick up enough blocks to make it possible to go the distance.
He was the one who had the most frustrating fumble return in recent history.
“I probably ran about 120 [yards] for 17 yards,” Diggs laughed to reporters. “But it was a good 17. It was worth it.”
The ball was actually only nine yards from Houston’s original location. Diggs says he made the right business decision when he felt his gas tank fill up towards the end of his run.
“Yeah, I saw two big linemen coming,” the Alabama product admitted. “And I know they were mad because I was running around the field. I know they were like, ‘When I get a hold of him, I going to crush him.’ So, I just went out of bounds.”
Diggs’s takeaway provided a Dallas spark, but that spark fizzled out before turning into points. The Cowboys were left frustrated after the Cowboys lost their fourth-and-fourth-and-goal play.
Diggs, who was third on the team with five tackles, felt that he still had one highlight to his day.
Diggs was one five Cowboys defenders who stayed under the sign when Davis Mills, Texans quarterback sent a 60 yard prayer into the endzone with eight seconds remaining.
Safety Israel Mukuamu came down with it for the first regular-season pick of his NFL career… but not without a bit of a fight from his teammate.
“Just saw the ball, went up there, and just high-pointed the ball to make a play,” Diggs explained. “My guys did a good job of boxing everybody out so that there was no one there.”
Diggs, however, had nine interceptions at the point in 2021. He later applied for partial credit to make his total of three in 2022.
It seemed a fitting end to a game that didn’t go the way Diggs- or the Cowboys- had envisioned at kickoff.
“We need games like that just to see how are we going to respond to a little adversity,” Diggs admitted. “Game’s not going our way, things not going our way, so how are we going to respond? And I think we did a real good job of that.”
Even if you have one less thumb to use, it’s still a good start.
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