EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – CeeDee Lamb was having a hard time putting a big drop behind him.
His teammates and coaches made sure he did.
In the second quarter of the Dallas Cowboys' 23-16 win over the New York Giants, Lamb couldn't haul in a deep pass by quarterback Cooper Rush that hit him right in the hands. A would-be touchdown drive turned into a punt for the Cowboys, who clung to a 6-3 lead at the time.
"Very frustrating, honestly," the Cowboys No. 1 receiver said. "Just because I practiced all week, all offseason just on focusing in on the ball and I let that one slip away.
"It was a tough third quarter. I kept thinking about it. All the guys kept telling me, 'Let it go. Let it go. We've still got more game left.' And in the fourth quarter when I kept hearing my number being called, I knew it was my opportunity again."
Lamb got redemption during a critical 11-play, 89-yard touchdown drive at the start of the fourth quarter. Tied 13-3 and facing fourth-and-4 from the Giants' 41-yard line, Cowboys head coach
Mike McCarthy decided to go for it, and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore dialed up a quick play for Lamb right at the first-down mark.
Two plays later, Rush found Lamb again for 26 yards, followed by Lamb's spectacular one-handed grab that gave Dallas the lead for good.
"I had to step up," Lamb said. "It was mandatory.
"I appreciate Kellen for trusting in me and all the guys believing in my abilities. … I was willing to do anything to make up for a touchdown, potentially, that I left in the (second) quarter."
Lamb finished the game with a game-high eight catches (on 12 targets) for 87 yards and the TD.
"CeeDee's got the 88 on for a reason," running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "He's a superstar. He had a hell of a game. He had the one drop early, but he responded and had that big drive and big touchdown catch. CeeDee is a hell of a player and he's only going to get better."
Lamb is well aware that the spotlight is on him as the top option on offense following the offseason departure of Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns. Lamb says he's his own toughest critic.
That whole third quarter of frustration was an example. But he, and the offense, showed toughness with a big finish against their NFC East rivals.
"We preach toughness and willingness, and I was willing to put my body out on the line for the other 10 guys and the other guys on the sideline," Lamb said. "They're believing in me, they trust my talent, and so do I.
"It's going to have its ebbs and flows. It's all about being consistent and staying positive. Everything is not gonna go my way, but when it does, it's gonna go big."