The Play: Jeff Heath salts away quality win for Cowboys

Sep 25, 2017; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety Jeff Heath (38) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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What’s the most Jeff Heath thing ever?

If you said “playing out of control and late to react so he runs into a teammate and knocks them out” you’d win this game. He did not do that, in this game, at least.

The close runner-up? That would be an interception on a fourth down, wherein the Cowboys lose field position via his general lack of football awareness and catching the ball rather than knocking it down.

Hey guess what was:

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The Play: 5:12 in the 4th, 4th and 8 from Dallas 43; Alex Smith somehow throws an INT to Jeff Heath

A larger point first; Jeff Heath was a chic pick this offseason as a ‘breakout’ player. This is largely because he was inexplicably good in the Green Bay playoff game, and because the swamp troll that cursed Heath at birth somehow also cursed Jameis Winston, who throws the ball to Heath with shocking regularity.

Seriously, Google “Jeff Heath + breakout” if you want some freezing cold takes (and a bunch of my tweets crackin’ on those guys real bad).

Jeff Heath just is what he is. He’s a phenomenal athlete, one of the best on the Cowboys, and this team has Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott, David Irving, and Brice Butler - all outlier freaks. But he just has the worst football instincts you can imagine. Or maybe he’s just schemed to just kind of be there - which also doesn’t speak to his skill.

But he plays special teams well and he has nice biceps and could certainly beat me up in a fight, so Dallas has kept him around for half a decade, and he’s just kind of ended up being the full-time strong safety because… well, there’s really no good reason he just kind of is.

So, as the game had gone from Dallas laugher to tight game with one Tyreek/Benny Hill touchdown before halftime, and a Travis Kelce touchdown on the other side of the half, a couple of responses by Dallas put KC down a 28-17 deficit with the clock ticking to around five minutes left.

On third down, Taco Charlton (hey remember him?) sacked Alex Smith, and KC took the non-Garrett route of going for it on fourth down.

And Smith threw to safety valve Travis Kelce, and for the first time since the President of the United States was….

...not Donald Trump, he was intercepted by Jeff Heckin' Heath.

The Shyamalan twist here is Heath cost the team four yards by not just knocking the ball down, which is standard operating procedure in fourth down situations absent Winston-like inaccuracy giving you open field in front of you, but in the end it was just symbolic.

Dallas would choke off enough clock to give the ball back to KC with a static 28-17 score and just over a minute to find 11 points to tie. They would not, and many Dallas fans ran to the dictionary to find out what ‘Pyrrhic victory’ means after several key Cowboys started to exit the game with injuries, none of them Jeff Heath.

The other fun fact about Heath's pick was that in terms on win expectancy, it… didn’t do much. Dallas largely had the game salted - Heath’s picked moved the needle from 96% Dallas to 99%. WinEx saw a far bigger swing on the Hill touchdown before the half (86% Dallas to 68% Dallas) and the 56 yarder to Terrance Williams just moments before (Dallas 63%- 82%).

So, in the end, Jeff’s shining moment was just a neat punctuation mark on a sentence made by better football players. Shakespearean.
 

If you wish to ask Joe for more of his thoughts on Jeff Heath's football abilities you can do so by tweeting at him @thejoeursery.