The Dallas Cowboys just delivered their gutsiest performance yet. Going into a hostile environment on a national stage and doing what they did is the sign of a truly special team. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how this team stepped up all the way around from Cooper Rush to Ezekiel Elliott being a warrior, to this defense deciding to lay it all out there every single possession.
Cooper Rush was thrust into the starting quarterback role 90 minutes before kickoff. What did he do? Rush struck gold and only went for 325 yards and two touchdowns. The final touchdown toss to Amari Cooper coming with less than a minute to go to win the game. It was a truly gutsy effort and Rush exceeded expectations.
He had an early mistake with an interception and he had some errant throws, but what I loved the most was the constant poise and ability to bounce back. Rush stepped up in the pocket play after play and hung in there under pressure to find his guys. Rush was 5/8 for 139 yards and one touchdown under pressure. He took a page from Dak Prescott’s book and was willing to put it all on the line.
I mean, for a backup to spread it around as he did, I am still in awe. Cooper went 8-122-1 TD (we predicted 8-134-1 TD, so we’ll take this!), CeeDee Lamb went 6-112, and Cedrick Wilson chipped in 3-84-1 TD. It can’t be overstated how much of a factor that the practice reps Rush and Wilson get on second team helped them connect for the 73-yard score to kick off the second half.
Cooper Rush came up clutch for the Dallas Cowboys
On the final drive of the game, the Cowboys had what may be two of the plays of their season when all is said and done. Rush launched one down the right sideline that pinballed about four or five times eventually ending in an incredible 42- yard catch by Amari Cooper to put the Cowboys in business.
Ezekiel Elliott entered the picture on a critical 3rd & 11 from the Vikings 20-yard line. Under duress, Rush checked it down to Elliott in what looked like an attempt to simply shorten the field goal attempt. We all were reminded not only of the resurgence of Zeke this season but the type of warrior he is. Elliott pounded through four defenders and converted the third down with a gain of 15. When looking at the Next Gen Stats below, this was no ordinary conversion. Elliott pulled off a near miracle for the Cowboys.
Rush continued to stay hot and capped the drive off with a dime to Cooper in the corner of the end zone leaving the Vikings with just 0:51 on the clock that eventually bled out.
Stand up, Dallas Cowboys defense!
There is something to be said about the Cowboys’ defense we saw last night. They didn’t have their normal collection of turnovers but they answered the bell. Prior to this game, I discussed if the defense could step up when the turnovers ran dry and they certainly did. Defensive end Randy Gregory, linebacker Micah Parsons, and cornerback Anthony Brown, despite some early-season struggles, stepped up in a game that needed them to keep them in it.
The Cowboys may have struck gold last night with Cooper Rush. He showed this team he is a guy that can keep them in it and even go win a game in a clutch moment. For as much as this Cowboys team found hidden riches, Rush may have unearthed himself some more. Be it an extension as the Cowboys’ backup or even a chance for more playing time elsewhere, Rush might have just struck gold.
And if he did, good for him. Cooper Rush deserves anything and everything that comes his way after hanging in there the last four years as a backup and finally delivering when the lights shined brightest on him. Rush is the latest guy to follow the “next man up” mantra that the 2021 Cowboys continue to embody. It’s fun, it’s special, and I think this roller coaster ride has a lot more fun in it.