Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ian Halperin/UPI/Shutterstock (13400616q) Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush led his team to a 20-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals during their NFL game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday, September 18, 2022 NFL Cowboys Bengals, Arlington, Texas, United States – 18 Sep 2022
Going for it on fourth and two at your own 42 early in the game is all you need to know about how the Cowboys coaches feel about backup quarterback Cooper Rush.
They not only went for it, but they trusted the guy in the first drive of just his second-ever start to put the ball in the air, on time and on the money.
Tight end Dalton Schultz was open underneath the linebackers but clearly past the first down sticks on the play.
But Rush somehow finds Brown breaking free, coming across the middle five yards behind the Bengals linebacker for the completion and the critical first down.
It was undoubtedly early proof that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and head coach Mike McCarthy weren’t asking Rush to be just the bus driver on Sunday afternoon.
In his 19 completions in the game, Rush had four that went for more than 20 yards. But he also had four more between 10 and 20 yards.
Of his 32 throws in the game, Rush fired downfield 15 yards or more on 10 throws from 4-yards or more behind the line of scrimmage, completing eight of those, including the 9-yard touchdown pass to Brown to finish off the opening drive.
Rush consistently made the correct read, finding six different receivers in the win.
So, with starter Dak Prescott out for at least another week, Rush will be trusted to lead the Cowboys’ offense again.
The question now is can Rush do it on the road?
He did it in Week 8 of the 2021 season at Minnesota, where the Cowboys’ coaches asked Rush to throw the ball down the field in the first start of his career.
In Minnesota, he threw the ball 40 times in a comeback win that featured a late fourth quarter touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.
The coaches asked Rush to do more than just be a game manager.
Of his 40 throws, Rush looked further than 10 yards downfield on 14 of those, including five over 20 yards past the line of scrimmage. He completed 10 of those 14 passes.
So, Rush has now made the Cowboys’ coaches look good at home against the elite of the AFC this season and on the road in a non-rival NFC game in 2021.
Now he gets the chance to prove that he can do it on the road against an NFC East rival.
Certainly, the coaches and fans will expect him to replicate his Sunday performance on Monday night at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey against the Giants.
And that means no time for bus drivers or game managers.