Well, look who got himself out from the depths of Dallas Cowboys Twitter hate last night.
A polarizing figure amongst the Cowboys faithful is current No. 88, CeeDee Lamb. He was one of the best wide receivers in college football during his final season at Oklahoma in 2019 — a consensus All-American who averaged 21.4 yards per reception that year.
The Cowboys selected him with the 17th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. After two years of being partnered with Amari Cooper, he now has to earn his No. 88 stripes as the Cowboys’ unquestioned No. 1 wide receiver.
Through two games in 2022, Lamb caught nine passes for 104 yards. Not quite the game-breaking stats that Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, and Dez Bryant put up wearing the legendary Cowboys’ number (when adjusted for era, obviously Pearson’s total counting stats in the 1970s weren’t eye-popping).
Against the New York Giants on Monday night Lamb dropped a pass in the first half that Cooper Rush placed right between both eights. Cowboys fans were ready for him to go back to Norman, Oklahoma, and everyone else had jokes.
Lamb would go on to save the damn day, however, playing arguably the biggest role in keeping his team from dipping under .500. The first half of Cowboys-Giants picked up where games against the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos left off. Coming out of halftime the Cowboys held a 6-3 lead. The Giants quickly tied the score, and would eventually take the lead. However, the third quarter is when Lamb began his turn in the Cowboys Twitterverse from heel to babyface.
He caught a huge pass to begin their first touchdown drive of the second half. Then he became the whole show in their next one. Yes, that one-handed touchdown pass is the highlight of the entire game, but he never gets the chance to make that play without two big ones that preceded it.
The 26-yard catch that he hauled in the play before the touchdown put the Cowboys on the Giants’ one-yard line, but that fourth-and-4 play earlier was the real difference maker. The Cowboys were at the Giants’ 41-yard line, the game was tied. If they don’t make that play, the Giants only have to hold off that cyclone of a Cowboys pass rush just long enough to kick another field goal to take the lead at home.
Instead, Lamb likely brought a tear to Irvin’s eyes with the play he made to keep that drive alive. He ran a slant over the middle of the field, and this isn’t like some of the ones in Big 12 play that he turned into giant gains. This was an NFL, professional, move-the-chains type of play while a defensive back was less than one second from hurling himself into Lamb like a scud missile. Lamb ate the blow and got the Cowboys a first down.
At Oklahoma, Lamb was all about the YAC. In his final season, he led all college football wide receivers in yards after catch. Lincoln Riley’s offense got him the ball frequently in space, and Lamb hit those Big 12 defensive backs with shake, bake, and shoulder on the regular.
What the scouts were worried about with him coming out of the draft was his ability to create separation with his route running. He’s not going to run past pro defensive backs for 60-yard catches in the air like Ja’Marr Chase, so he has to be able to do his work within 20 yards. Cris Collinsworth was on his case quite a bit during the Cowboys’ season opener for not being able to be in a position to give Dak Prescott a downfield target.
For 10 quarters this season, Lamb looked like he needed to go back to wearing the No. 2 he did in college both out of respect for the Cowboys legends who came before him, and because that number fit the role he would be most successful in as an NFL player.
On Monday night, he did the best thing that a player can do to change their entire perception in three hours, make the biggest plays in a nationally televised game. Lamb didn’t get led to slaughter last night, he slayed the Giant in front of everybody.
Original source here
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