After a dramatic win vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, the Dallas Cowboys and their fans can let out a long exhale, if only for this week. After the loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the season opener, and Dak Prescott suffering a fractured thumb, tensions were high surrounding the team.
Owner Jerry Jones had pointed comments toward his top receiver CeeDee Lamb, and head coach Mike McCarthy basically said that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had to be smarter with his play-calling. Meanwhile, somehow the pressure on Cooper Rush’s shoulders to carry the Cowboys offense without Dak Prescott flew relatively under the radar.
Cooper in Control
However, Cooper Rush was the talk of the town and the star of the show on Sunday. He gets the Cowboys game ball for this week.
Aided by a Dallas pass rush that sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow six times and a Dallas run game that kept Rush in third and manageable downs, he executed as well as as one could expect given the circumstances.
Rush commanded the line of scrimmage Sunday afternoon, often playing cat and mouse with Bengals defensive play-callers, and showing a confident cadence that forced defenders into the neutral zone multiple times before the snap.
Most importantly, Rush avoided making the big mistake to hurt his team. The veteran didn’t have a jaw-dropping stat line, (19/31, 235 yards, 1TD) but he was efficient and did an excellent job of managing the game. The biggest takeaway from Rush’s performance was his composure throughout the game in critical moments.
One example was on the Cowboys’ opening drive: Facing a 4th and 2 on their side of the field, Rush, with the Bengals pass rush closing in, hung in the pocket and delivered a strike over the middle of the field to Noah Brown for a first down.
4th and 2 Cooper Rush to Noah Brown for 17 yards and the 1st - Yep, the game is too big for Rush right? #facepalm #CowboysNation #DallasCowboys #CINvsDAL pic.twitter.com/MiUTAnvcAn— ️ Steven Van Over (@StevenVanOver) September 18, 2022
Cool, Cooper and Collected
No greater example of Rush’s calm in tense moments was his game-winning drive. After a huge three and out forced by the Dallas defense, Cooper Rush was set up at his 35-yard line with 56 seconds left in regulation. Methodically, Rush got the ball out of his hands quickly. Noah Brown and CeeDee Lamb both caught passes in the closing seconds as Rush marched his offense into field goal range for Brett Maher, who made a 50-yard FG as time expired.
BRETT MAHER WINS IT FOR THE COWBOYS!!— SportsDay Cowboys (@dmn_cowboys) September 18, 2022
(via @NFL) pic.twitter.com/Sg8xQCoum5
What’s the Rush?
Cooper Rush in the clutch might be that spark that gives this Cowboys team confidence. Confidence in CeeDee Lamb to step up as an elite receiver many expect. Confidence in Kellen Moore as a play-caller putting his players in better positions to succeed. And confident that the Cowboys can hold it together until the return of Dak Prescott.
The Cowboys’ next two games are in the NFC East against the New York Giants and Washington Commanders respectively. If Rush can keep up this level of efficiency and somehow get two big wins against their division rivals, the Cowboys may allow Prescott to make sure he’s fully healed, since after all, what’s the Rush?