NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 12 winners and losers: Cowboys' Micah Parsons gets the better of Giants tackle Andrew Thomas

Arlington, Texas, USA; New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones (8) eludes the rush of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Micah Parsons gets Andrew Thomas: Parsons won 23% of his pass-rush reps against Thomas, a good but not otherworldly rate over a single game, but it's notable when it comes against one of the best left tackles in the league.

Myles Garrett doing his thing: Garrett won 27% of his pass-rush reps against Donovan Smith, an elite rate. He converted those into two sacks and also drew a crucial penalty from Smith in overtime.

Who can stop Justin JeffersonJefferson caught 110 yards on seven targets while running only 17 routes against CB Jonathon Jones last Thursday.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

As part of PFF's grading process, we chart every matchup on the football field, allowing us to take a detailed look at in-game battles and highlight the players who come out on top each week.

There can be obvious matchup victories, such as a wide receiver putting up 150 yards against a struggling cornerback or an edge rusher beating the same tackle to sack the quarterback repeatedly. But there can also be those hidden wins, such as a guard quietly beating his opponent on every pass-block rep or a cornerback holding his receiver to zero targets over a game.

Here are the players who got the better of their matchups in Week 12.

EDGE Myles Garrett, Cleveland Browns vs. LT Donovan Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Garrett’s dominance against Smith is a classic example of why pressures don’t always tell the real story for pass-rushers. He generated “only” four pressures on 41 snaps, an average rate for an edge rusher. However, that’s mostly because QB Tom Brady got rid of the ball quickly.

Garrett won 27% of his pass-rush reps against Smith, an elite rate. He converted those into two sacks and also drew a crucial penalty from Smith in overtime.

EDGE Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders vs. RT Abraham Lucas, Seattle Seahawks

Crosby lined up against Lucas 28 times on Sunday and won every fourth rep. He pressured QB Geno Smith six times and sacked him twice on these plays.  

EDGE Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys vs. LT Andrew Thomas, New York Giants

Parsons won 23% of his pass-rush reps against Thomas, a good but not otherworldly rate over a single game, but it's notable when it comes against one of the best left tackles in the league.

The Cowboys edge also finished two of those pass-rush wins with a sack.

EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants vs. LT Tyler Smith, Dallas Cowboys

While the Cowboys offense clearly won their matchup against the Giants defense, Thibodeaux did all he could to prevent that. He racked up 11 pressures in the game, seven coming from 17 pass-rush reps against Tyler Smith.

That’s a pressure rate of 41%, a number a whole defensive unit would be proud of in a single game.

LT Patrick Mekari, Baltimore Ravens vs. EDGE Travon Walker, Jacksonville Jaguars

Mekari had to fill in for Ronnie Stanley at left tackle again, and he did a tremendous job against this year’s first overall pick. He didn’t lose a single pass-block rep across 23 plays.

RT Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. EDGE Jadeveon Clowney, Cleveland Browns

Before getting injured in overtime, Wirfs shut down Clowney on 31-of-32 pass block snaps.

LT Orlando Brown Jr., Kansas City Chiefs vs. EDGE Michael Hoecht, Los Angeles Rams

Brown has faced tougher competition in his career, but he didn't lose a single one of his 31 reps against Hoecht, a good achievement no matter the competition. 

WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers vs. CB Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos

Moore ran only eight routes against Surtain, but he was positively graded on five of them and caught three passes for three first downs and a total of 77 yards. He absolutely got the best of Surtain this time.

WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals vs. CB Kristian Fulton, Tennessee Titans

Higgins caught only 38 yards on 21 routes against Fulton, but he earned a positive route-running grade on 10 of those routes, one of the highest rates of the week. The fact that he was targeted only four times on these routes was outside of his control.

WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals vs. CB Roger McCrearyTennessee Titans

Higgins made up for the lack of targets against Fulton by catching 47 yards on only 11 routes against Roger McCreary. The Titans secondary truly struggled against the former Clemson Tiger on Sunday.

WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys vs. CB Darnay Holmes, New York Giants

Lamb did it all against Holmes, as he dominated in-route (Holmes graded negatively in coverage on 7-of-12 coverage snaps) and at the catch point, totaling 63 yards on six targets.

WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings vs. CB Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots

Jefferson caught 110 yards on seven targets while running only 17 routes against Jonathon Jones last Thursday. He didn’t consistently separate against him, but he came down with the ball when he was thrown to.

CB Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. WR Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns

Dean covered Cooper on 12 snaps and kept a clean sheet, as he wasn’t negatively graded on a single snap. Cooper caught a total of 4 yards against him.

CB Eli Apple, Cincinnati Bengals vs. WR Robert Woods, Tennessee Titans

On 15 coverage snaps, Apple didn’t give up any separation against Woods. The Titans tried to target him three times, but all attempts were incomplete.

LB Alex Anzalone, Detroit Lions vs. TE Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

Anzalone was tasked with covering Dawson Knox 14 times, both in zone and man concepts. He wasn’t graded negatively on his route coverage once on these plays. Consequently, Knox was targeted zero times against him.

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