The Dallas Cowboys as we currently know them are a team with plenty of offensive firepower. Over the course of the last few years we have seen the nucleus of this group grow together to the point that, when healthy, they are challenging to be one of the best offenses in the National Football League.
Much of the change in the team’s identity happened when the organization sent a first-round pick to the then-Oakland Raiders in exchange for Amari Cooper back during the 2018 season. Cooper has been one of the best receivers in the league since then and has certainly proven the team right in spending big to acquire him.
All throughout this week on the Blogging The Boys podcast network (subscribe on Apple devices right here or on Spotify right here) we are ranking the top moments in certain players’ Cowboys careers so far. On the latest episode of The 75O - where you can hear 2-Time Super Bowl Champion Tony Casillas every week - we discussed Amari Cooper.
To be clear here we are ranking moments as individual plays. There have been a handful of notable overall games that featured Cooper, but obviously those featured some moments in time that were more memorable.
Like we did with the Ezekiel Elliott moments on Monday, we will go in chronological order here. Let’s begin.
90 yards to the house on Thanksgiving Day
In their immediate game after trading for Amari Cooper - a Monday night contest against the Tennessee Titans - the Dallas Cowboys lost and fell to 3-5 on the season. It felt like a new low.
Their next five games (at Atlanta, at Philadelphia, Washington on Thanksgiving, New Orleans, and Philadelphia) seemed like too tall of a task, and in a month and change they would regret giving up their first-round pick. Instead of collapsing the Cowboys thrived and won all five in a row, the last one in epic fashion that featured this Cooper 90-yard touchdown.
This game was too close for comfort late into the third quarter, despite Washington starting Colt McCoy at quarterback, and this score really opened the floodgates so to speak.
Winning this game gave the Cowboys three victories in a row and set them up in prime position to take command of the NFC East.
Amari Cooper pulls out a 75-yard touchdown in a must-win game against Philadelphia
Just two weeks after the Thanksgiving Day performance against Washington, Cooper was at it again during a contest against a division rival at AT&T Stadium.
With the Philadelphia Eagles still hanging around in the division (they would go on to be a Wildcard team), the Cowboys had an opportunity to sweep the bad guys and things were rather tense in the fourth quarter. Until Cooper showed up.
Just two years ago Amari Cooper went for 10 catches, 217 yards and 3 TD against the Eagles including this 75-yd TD pass from Dak Prescott...— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) December 11, 2020
Cowboys went on to win in OT on Cooper’s eventual third TD of the day...#CowboysNation pic.twitter.com/Pzb8Lu9IXF
The particularly noteworthy thing about this play is that it was never supposed to happen. After the play call Cooper expressed displeasure to Dak Prescott about having to run another stop route. After initially wanting to just follow orders the quarterback gave Cooper a signal to change things up and boom, the results spoke for themselves.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was dismissed following this season, but this whole idea is somewhat emblematic of the change that Cooper helped instill. The offense bore new life with him in it and this play is somewhat of the poster for that idea.
Amari shakes off Xavien Howard
While the first two plays that we discussed featured scores, this one does not, but it certainly has its own merit for consideration.
One of the things that Cooper is universally hailed for is his route-running ability. It is so constantly on display and a part of how he manages to get so open during games. Even the best defenders in the NFL struggle to guard him as evidenced here by Xavien Howard.
“We look, he looks”— Mike Vannucci (@WRCoachVannucci) September 23, 2019
Amari Cooper was shadowed for majority of the game by Xavien Howard. Cooper did a great job manipulating his cover defender with his head and eyes. pic.twitter.com/4Zy9jk160e
There is nothing flashy or wildly entertaining about how Cooper loses Howard here, but in many ways that is the essence of his game. He is methodical and focused and simply goes out and executes. He is in many ways a dream of a football player to root for.
Spin Move City against the Green Bay Packers
The next two plays that we will discuss unfortunately came in losses for the Cowboys, but there were still incredible Cooper moments nonetheless.
First up we have his 53-yard touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in 2019 where he managed to effortlessly spin out of a would-be tackle before trotting into the endzone. He just makes it look so easy.
While the Cowboys lost this game this was a particularly impressive Amari Cooper outing. He went over 200 yards for the second time in his Cowboys career (the first was the Philadelphia game we discussed earlier) which made him the first wide receiver in team history to record multiple 200-yard receiving games. Keep in mind this was just his 16th game with the team (counting playoffs).
Amari holds the sideline against the Minnesota Vikings
Admittedly this is the play that just barely made the list that Tony and I discussed, but it showed off another element of who Cooper is which is what made it feel somewhat necessary for inclusion.
We know that Cooper can run routes like no other, but seeing him utilize insane body control is equally cool. He did a lot of that against the Minnesota Vikings in 2019.
The Cowboys lost this game as mentioned, arguably the final straw for Jason Garrett as head coach at the time. Cooper continued to thrive though which is what partly led to his big-time contract the following offseason.
It really is incredible to think about how much Cooper has accomplished during his 2.5 years with the Cowboys. Assuming he plays at least 12 games this season, he will officially have played with Dallas for more of his career than Oakland. He only needs 156 receiving yards and a single touchdown to have had more with the Cowboys than the Raiders.
Let’s hope he gets all that and more in 2021.