Sat, 28 Jan 2023

Malik Hooker On Career Day vs. Colts: 'It's Special'

Dallas Cowboys
05 Dec 2022, 19:24 GMT+10

Patrik Walker

In his first-ever matchup against his former team, Malik Hooker wasn't simply great, he played like every bit the top-15 draft pick the Colts invested in - mauling them in the process

ARLINGTON, TX - In a game of horseshoes, all you need is a little luck to go along with your skill. Malik Hooker had both in spades when he and the Dallas Cowboys took on [read: euthanized] the Indianapolis Colts in primetime on Sunday evening, a team that selected him with the 15th-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

On one hand, his ability to impact games showed itself in an interception in the second quarter on Matt Ryan that led to a 34-yard field goal by Brett Maher. On the other hand, he was in the right place at the right time when rookie linebacker Damone Clark punched the ball free from running back Mo Alie-Cox to scoop it and score the first defensive touchdown of his six-year NFL career.

"I knew I was gonna make some plays, but plays like that - I wouldn't dream in a million years," said Hooker. "I wasn't expecting that, but I'm happy I performed the way I did, for the sake of the defense."

In all, Hooker contributed 10 points to the 54-19 blowout victory over the visiting equine, his first-ever matchup against them after parting ways with the club in 2020 before going on to sign his first contract with the Cowboys in 2021.

And while he holds no ill will toward the Colts, his departure fueled by a torn Achilles suffered two years ago, he readily admits he had some added emotional fuel when he lined up against them on Sunday.

"It was special," he said. "To be able to go out there and perform against the team that drafted me, that believed in me, it was special for me to go out there and perform like that. It was definitely a game for me that I wanted to perform [well] in, and not just because it was the Colts. I just felt like it was due ... I just wanted to put my best foot forward."

Hooker's performance headlined a defensive effort that saw the Cowboys take the ball away five times in the fourth quarter alone, also sacking quarterback Matt Ryan three times, hitting him seven times and intercepting him on three separate occasions - rookie cornerback DaRon Bland delivering his first-career two-interception game following the loss of Anthony Brown to what could be a season-ending injury.

When asked what the ceiling might be for this iteration of the Cowboys defense, one that has had its struggles at times but, overall, been one of the best in the league and in recent franchise history, Hooker has but one answer.

"There ain't no ceiling," he said. "We're still hitting our stride. We feel like we still had some mistakes in that game that ... we could have stopped a couple of their first downs. We've got to fix those details still, but they're ain't no ceiling for this defense.

"We've got a lot of guys from top to bottom that's capable of dominating the game. We're just going to keep putting our best foot forward and keep building off of that."

After seeing how they rode the Colts like a derby horse on Sunday, it's hard to see the flaw in his logic.

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