Budda Baker got the cash in training camp, and on Monday he added some cachet.
The highest-paid safety in the NFL showed the Cowboys -- and the country -- why he deserved the big bucks with an outstanding performance on "Monday Night Football."
Baker had seven tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and an interception in the 38-10 win, earning plaudits from the likes of Deion Sanders, Tyrann Mathieu and others who tuned in to the primetime performance.
"Budda," defensive tackle Jordan Phillips said, "is worth every penny."
Baker was dominant from start to finish.
He forced the first of Ezekiel Elliott's two fumbles by poking the ball out on a short pass, which kept the game knotted at zero and set up the Cardinals' first touchdown.
"I knew Zeke didn't see me, so I tried to rip the ball out," Baker said. "Luckily it came out."
He had the sack and another hurry of Andy Dalton on blitzes, and then helped cap the win with his first career interception.
"He is everywhere," coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "You watch the game, and '32' shows up in every situation, all night. Such a tremendous player."
Baker broke quickly on the fourth quarter pass by Dalton and hauled it in despite playing with a cast that is shielding his injured right thumb.
"It definitely felt tricky, not being able to squeeze it in," Baker said. "I tried to catch it (by scooping). It went right to my body. It was a great spiral by Dalton and I was able to get it."
Baker missed the Cardinals' game against the Panthers in Week 4 with the injury, and the defense looked lost without him. He's been their compass in the two games since, playing well in his return against the Jets and spearheading the dominant performance against Dallas.
Baker celebrated his pick by rolling the football at his teammates like a bowling ball, and they toppled over for the strike.
"The bowling thing was Pat's idea," Baker said. "Pregame Pat explained to us, 'This is what we should do when someone makes a play.' We did it. It was cool."
KIRK LIFTS THE OFFENSE
The Cardinals led 14-0 late in the second quarter, but the offense to that point had benefited from good field position after turnovers.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk helped it find its groove quickly with a tremendous finger-tip catch on a deep ball which he took 80 yards to the end zone.
"When the play was called, I think I had just fair caught a punt, and Andy (Isabella) ran on the field," Kirk said. "He was like, 'We're calling the play. We're calling the play. You're going to go 80 yards for a touchdown.' It was kind of one of those where your heart starts beating a little fast."
Kirk showed impressive body control to secure the catch and stay upright so he could finish the play with a score.
"That's the late hands trick," Kingsbury said. "That's why he was able to stay on his feet. If you have early hands, your body goes with you and you usually dive for the ball. He went late hands."
It was Kirk's second touchdown reception of the game, as he took a shovel pass from Kyler Murray on a jet sweep and beat the Cowboys to the pylon for a 6-yard touchdown earlier in the quarter.
PHILLIPS PLAYS WELL AFTER EMOTIONAL WEEK
Phillips began the work week wondering if he would be able to attend his father's funeral on Saturday and also play against the Cowboys.
In a normal season, it wouldn't have been an issue, but COVID-19 protocols presented an obstacle.
Phillips got it worked out and was able to be with his family during their critical time, and then had a big game against the Cowboys. Phillips had a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pair of quarterback hits on Dalton.
"At the end of a day, I've got a job," Phillips said. "Tragedies happen, but it's part of life. You roll with the punches and go to work."