When Dak Prescott left the Cowboys’ season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the fourth quarter due to a finger injury, many thought the worst for Dallas’ season. Post-game, it was revealed that Prescott would miss between four and eight weeks after his injury required surgery.
That meant that long-time backup Cooper Rush would be the starter going forward. He only started one game previously, a 20-16 win as Rush hit Amari Cooper for the go-ahead touchdown with 51 seconds remaining against the Vikings last season. An eight-play, 75-yard drive to win the game on enemy territory. No biggie.
Then comes Sunday. Rush against a Cincinnati Bengals team that was smarting after losing in overtime to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Many did not give Dallas a shot, but Rush had been there before. He knows the players, the system, and just about anything else there is to know about Kellen Moore’s scheme.
His performance, while not spectacular, was serviceable. He kept things simple, leaned on the run game at times, and when he needed to complete a critical pass, he did.
After the Bengals, who were down 17-3 at halftime, brought themselves level after a 19-play, 83-yard drive in the last quarter that took nearly nine minutes off the clock, it was all there for Rush to once again lead a game-winning drive.
He went 33 yards on six plays in 57 seconds to set up Brett Maher with a 50-yard field goal, which he nailed to give the Cowboys an unlikely win. In his two games, Rush has led two game-winning drives.
That begs the question, how far can he take the Cowboys in Dak’s absence?
There had been comparisons to Tom Brady after his fourth-quarter effort on Sunday, which is a little silly, but you can see the point that was being made. Looking at the Cowboys’ schedule, the next two games against the New York Giants and Washington Commanders are winnable.
If Rush can maintain his ability to play within himself and not make mistakes while continually making plays, there is no reason to suggest that Dallas can’t win both games.
After Washington, it gets a little more complicated. The L.A. Rams and Philadelphia Eagles are the next two, and they will be incredibly challenging. Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears are the final games before Prescott was/is originally scheduled to return against the Green Bay Packers on November 14.
Without being too optimistic, it is not hard to envision Rush leading Dallas to a 4-2 record over the next six weeks, should he have to play that long. A lot would have to go right, and the defense would need to continue to step up, but based on what we have seen of Rush, he is a competent quarterback. Not flashy, but quietly gets the job done.
The potential arrivals of Michael Gallup, James Washington (after week five), and Jason Peters could help his case even further. In his two starts, Rush is 2-0, has 560 yards passing, three touchdowns, and one interception.
How far can Dallas go with Rush? The answer is further than most people thought.