Jeff Heath has been an easy punching bag for Cowboys fans. However, his performance Sunday night deserves to be recognized. Typically a secondary player is given the spotlight throughout this Forgotten Star series. Secondary as in someone who did not make the highlights, but still affected the game in a major way. For this week, take the title and look how it perfectly entails Heath’s career.
His career has been one that is truly a rollercoaster. He takes a lot of blame but has never lost his role in Dallas. Within the secondary, Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis look like your future boundary cornerbacks, Xavier Woods is in place to be the future free safety, and questions surround Byron Jones. The one who has not been associated with the secondary changes is Jeff Heath.
The GOAT Jeff Heath.
— Kavon Frazier (@Kay_BlackSimba) December 18, 2017
A forgotten star, and possibly the biggest on the season so far. Heath is capable of star-like moments but also has mistakes worthy of a benching. It is the story of his career, but to his credit, he came up big once again when it mattered most this past Sunday night.
Starting at strong safety for the Cowboys, Heath was on the field for 99% of the plays, which was second-most on the defense behind Sean Lee. Tied for first on the team in total tackles at six, Heath also received an 85.1 PFF grade, fifth highest on the team.
A play before the infamous touchback of Sunday night, notice what Heath was able to process during a play that was designed to catch him off guard.
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) December 18, 2017
Dallas would start the play in a cover 2 zone scheme in their Tampa 2 package. As the Raiders begin the play, they send number 87 Jared Cook on a corner route to bait Heath over, so by the time Crabtree hits his double move, the seam should be open. Trusting his instincts and staying disciplined to his zone, Heath quickly reacts and disrupts a pass to perhaps one of the more deadlier threats in the red zone.
Then, pure hustle and determination took over. The “will to win and not give up on a play” mentality that is drilled into any athlete from peewee leagues on up was shown perfectly on this play. No extra analysis or anything, Heath potentially saved the Cowboys season.
So close. Soooo close.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 18, 2017
For someone who receives so much slander, but could lead the Cowboys in interceptions for a third straight season, Heath deserves nothing but praise for his performance against the Raiders.