Over two weeks ago, Cowboys fans sat in horror as Dak Prescott ran off the field late in the fourth quarter of the season opener nursing his hand. Once it was announced Prescott would miss “multiple weeks” with a broken thumb, it was easy to throw in the towel on the Cowboys' 2022 NFL season.
Well, go ahead and fold that towel back up because the Dallas Cowboys are sitting at 2-1 with wins against last year's Super Bowl contender, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the New York Giants (who were undefeated coming into this game) without their leader at the helm.
Mike McCarthy set the tone back in September when he said the team's theme this year is resilience.
When you look at all the adversity surrounding this season for the Cowboys – trading Amari Cooper, losing Randy Gregory, releasing La'el Collins, and losing all-pro left tackle Tyron Smith to injury before the season even started – the Dallas Cowboys are less talented than they were just one year ago, and anybody could suggest that this team was going to struggle this year.
On Monday Night Football against the 2-0 New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys were simply: resilient.
Sure, you can look at the film and see that the Cowboys didn't score a touchdown until the third quarter of the game. You can reflect on the heartbreaking drop CeeDee Lamb had in the second quarter that you could easily argue was a sure-fire touchdown and the ugly penalties that have continued since last year. But it was the attitude and the resilience of this team that won them this game.
After Lamb's drop in the second quarter, it was a fair assessment to say that Lamb was not ready to be WR1 for this team. Noah Brown had been making the highlights so far in the night and clearly has a successful connection with QB Cooper Rush. But Lamb showed his resilience and didn't let that drop alter his game.
Cooper Rush gave CeeDee the chance to redeem himself with a drive that was primed to let Lamb shine, connecting with a 17-yard pass down the sideline with Lamb showing his run-after-catch ability, then topping it off with one of the best catches of young Lamb's career for a touchdown.
As much as this team needs Dak Prescott, this team needed a suitable backup, and they have one in Cooper Rush.
Since coming into Minnesota last year to get a win against the Vikings while Prescott was injured, Cooper Rush has done everything asked and expected of him. He has helped lead this team to a 2-1 record. On Monday night, Cooper Rush went 21-31 with 215 passing yards and one touchdown to help give the Cowboys a victory.
I don't know that anybody expects Rush to come out and play like Dak Prescott, and he won't. Owner/General Manager Jerry Jones certainly hasn't helped matters when he hinted at the amusement of a QB controversy between Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush last week.
Let's be real: Cooper Rush will not take Dak Prescott's job as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback. But what Rush is doing, is his job, and he is doing it very well by putting this team in a position to win.
The Defense continued to show its dominance, with DeMarcus Lawrence proving once again why he is an elite pass-rusher. Pumping out an incredible stat line of seven quarterback pressures and three sacks.
In just the first three weeks of the NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys have only allowed three touchdowns to the opposing team and are now tied for the fewest touchdowns allowed through the first three games of a season in franchise history. That's without mention of the havoc the future Defensive Player of The Year – Micah Parsons (who showed up to the stadium with a pillow and a bottle of Pedialyte) brought to the Giants' offense.
Simply put — The defense knew what they had to do: be resilient.
At the end of the day, the players on this team hear the chatter. They know what people think about this team and how much of a microscope they are under compared to other teams in the league. Too many times in previous years, we've seen the Cowboys march out onto the field under undesirable circumstances and get pummeled.
But we didn't see that Monday night.
We saw this Cowboys team take all the negative attention they have been getting and won this game against a divisional opponent to position themselves well enough in contention with only a short amount of time left before Dak Prescott returns to the throne.
Let's give Mike McCarthy his credit when it's due. Mike McCarthy had his team prepared to win this game and now has a 7-7 record without his starting quarterback under center. We've seen this organization absolutely crumble in the past when they lost their starting quarterback. Sure, there are a ton of things we can criticize not just Mike McCarthy for, but this entire team.
What we can't take away from them is their determination to win games. The Cowboys could've very easily let this game slip away after the drops, the penalties, leaving points on the board, and allowing the Giants to tie the game.
But they didn't.
They showed the mental toughness, patience, and resilience they needed to get this win.
We certainly have no idea how the rest of this season will turn out, or how this team will perform down the stretch, especially when they get Dak Prescott back. But right now, all that matters is the Cowboys left the Meadowlands with a victory and are now looking ahead to the Washington Commanders.