Mandatory Credit: Photo by Frank Franklin II/AP/Shutterstock (13422536ap) Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) makes a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against New York Giants cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (22) during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, in East Rutherford, N.J Cowboys Giants Football, East Rutherford, United States – 26 Sep 2022
For the first ten quarters of the NFL season, Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb struggled to make an impact.
Lamb had been the target of Cowboys quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush 26 times in the two and a half games but could only come down with 11 catches. One of those misconnections was a perfectly placed 32-yard throw by Rush on Monday night against the New York Giants that Lamb, who probably would have walked into the end zone with the Cowboys’ first touchdown of the game, simply dropped.
“It is very frustrating,” Lamb said about the drop after the game.” Honestly, just because I practiced all week, and all offseason, just on focusing in on the ball, and I let that one slip away. It was tough.”
That seems to have been a theme so far this season for the guy the Cowboys are counting on to carry the load as the team’s top receiver.
In those first ten quarters, Lamb has only caught 42 percent of the passes thrown his way.
And while Lamb struggled, teammate Noah Brown was catching nearly everything thrown his way. Brown was also grabbing the headlines with big plays, something the Cowboys thought they would be getting from Lamb at this point.
But just as the worry level reached a new high with the drop late in the first half on Monday night, the version of Lamb the Cowboys had been waiting to see this season finally showed up and showed out after halftime against the Giants.
“He is CeeDee Lamb; he is gonna make plays,” Rush said after the win. “I’m sure he wants that one back, but you are going to hang with a guy like that. He is an unbelievable player.”
In the final 30 minutes of play on Monday night, Lamb caught six of the eight passes thrown his way, including his first touchdown of the season.
More importantly, it came at a crucial moment in the game after the Cowboys had just forced a Giants’ punt with the game tied at 13-13.
During that drive, Lamb had a clutch catch on fourth and four from the Giants’ 41, where he took a big hit at the moment he caught the ball. Two plays later, he caught a short pass from Rush and turned it into a 26-yard gain, the longest of the season for Lamb, to set the Cowboys up at the Giants 1.
The very next play, Lamb hauled in a one-handed over-the-shoulder pass from Rush for the Cowboys’ second touchdown of the game, giving them a lead they would never relinquish.
Lamb finished the game with eight catches for 87 yards and the one touchdown.
“I appreciate (offensive coordinator) Kellen (Moore) for trusting in me and all the guys for believing in me,” Lamb said.
It is the most catches he has had in a game since he snagged nine in a Cowboys win at New England in Week 6 of last season.
As for yards, it is the most from Lamb since he went for 89 yards in a Week 13 win over New Orleans, also last season.
So now, Lamb has 17 catches on 34 targets this season, for 191 yards and the one touchdown.
Probably not what the Cowboys had in mind when they shipped off their former No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper, who has 19 catches on 27 targets for 219 yards and two touchdowns this season for the Cleveland Browns.
Unless, of course, the Cowboys get more of the Lamb we saw in the second half against the Giants.
If that version of Lamb continues to show up over the rest of the season, it can only make the Cowboys’ offense that more potent, no matter who the quarterback is under center.