Amari Cooper went into Week 12 as one of the NFL’s top receivers in 2019. He still is, of course, but that didn’t stop the New England Patriots from taking him completely out of the game. The Cowboys’ star wide receiver was held without a catch for the first time since coming to Dallas.
Before yesterday, Cooper’s lowest catch total as a Cowboy was a single reception in Week 6 against the New York Jets. Other than that game, he’s never had less than three catches in any single contest.
During his time with the Raiders, Amari was held without a reception in three games. In total, that’s just four times in 75 career games (including playoffs) that Cooper’s been completely shut down.
New England’s coverage of Cooper, in which Cornerback Stephen Gilmore took the lead, resulted in only two targets even going Amari’s way during the game. One of those passes led to an interception by Gilmore.
The Patriots’ defensive effort brought the Cowboys’ entire passing game, which had been rolling coming into Sunday, to a screeching halt. Dak Prescott managed just 212 yards through the air and 57.6% for completions, both new season lows.
It was no surprise that New England was effective in this regard; the Patriots had the NFL’s top-ranked defense overall going into the game. But the advantage proved far greater in execution than in projection, and the Cowboys didn’t look anything like the league’s top offense.
This bad week, assuming it remains an outlier, won’t stop Amari Cooper from commanding top dollar this offseason. He still is among the league leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns and Dallas won’t have to play the Patriots again this season.
Still, yesterday was a heat check for Cooper, Dak Prescott, Kellen Moore, and everyone who got comfortable recently with talk of our passing game dominance. The Cowboys still have plenty of work to do if they ever want to compete with the NFL elite.