2. Cowboys Safeties Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker
Alright, fine. A little cheat. A little cheat for the boys. But while the Dallas safeties’ contributions to the stat sheet surely lean Malik Hooker’s way in this revenge grudge match, don’t lose Donovan Wilson’s game-changing play from the game’s meaty middle.
Forget the final numbers. Wilson being shot out of a cannon into the backfield on a 3rd & 5 with Indy up 10-7 to open the second quarter seemed to ignite the defense for the remainder of the half.
Sure, Dallas still entered the locker room up just 21-13 (an inflated gap thanks to Hooker and some late-half shenanigans), but from Wilson’s rocket fuel sack of Matt Ryan to the end of the second quarter, the only score the Cowboys allowed was a field goal after the Colts were given a short field.
Following a Stephon Gilmore pick, Indy’s offense advanced just three more yards in 57 seconds before kicking.
The Colts’ surprising intensity and underdog stature will be the story for many, but Wilson’s burst from the safety position helped redefine this game and allowed Dallas to win the second quarter emphatically. That was the difference in the contest.
Oh, and Hooker, folks. Even in his wildest dreams, he likely didn’t envision the matchup against his former team going this well. Maybe the scales would’ve been tilted in the Cowboys’ direction pretty significantly. After all, they’re a much better team. But a field-flipping pick right before the half, then a scoop-and-score to salt it away in the fourth and pour salt in the wound? That’s what you get for giving up an injury-riddled first-round pick and letting another team nurse him back to health.