ARLINGTON, Texas – In a way, Amari Cooper’s overtime touchdown catch Sunday embodied this entire five-game Cowboys win streak.
Facing third-and-7 from Philadelphia’s 15-yard line, Cooper tried to sell a fade route to the end zone and run a slant instead. Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas didn’t bite. He’d been sitting on routes all game.
“It still didn’t really work,” Cooper said. “But I just stayed with the ball, and there you have it.”
Douglas was in position to make the play on Dak Prescott’s pass, but he could only tip the ball. Cooper kept his eyes trained on it, snatched it and ran untouched into the end zone.
Cowboys 29, Eagles 23. At 8-5, Cooper’s new team is one step closer to the NFC East title.
It hasn’t been easy. Just over a month ago, the Cowboys were 3-5 and facing the prospect of a lost season.
“We’ve never wavered and we’ve never blinked,” Prescott said.
Cooper’s presence has helped. In six games since the Oakland Raiders traded him to Dallas in late October, he has 40 catches for 642 yards and 6 touchdowns. Most important, the Cowboys are 5-1 with him in the lineup.
Sunday was his most dominant performance yet: 10 catches for a career-high 217 yards (the most by any NFL receiver this season) and 3 touchdowns -- all in the fourth quarter and overtime. His first two scores from 28 yards and 75 yards reclaimed the lead for Dallas twice.
“He’s a hell of a football player,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s made a huge impact on our team since we’ve gotten him. I thought he did a good job staying patient early on in the ballgame and just continuing to work to get open.
“He’s a hard guy to cover. I think if you watch him week in and week out, you see him catch the ball short, you see him catch the ball medium, you see him catch the ball down the field, you see him make plays after he catches the ball. He’s just a damn good football player. We’re lucky to have him.”
Said running back Ezekiel Elliott: “He took over that game at the end when we needed him to. I’m glad to have that guy on the same side as me.”
The Cowboys traded their 2019 first-round pick for the 24-year-old Cooper, a former two-time Pro Bowler in Oakland whose numbers dipped last season due in part to injury. The Cowboys saw a big-play threat with outstanding focus and route-running skills.
Six games in, he has been just as advertised.
“I feel like that’s who I am,” he said. “I feel like I can make those plays to help my team win. I did in college a lot. In Oakland I did it sometimes. But my whole goal is just to be more consistent and be able to provide that type of play for my team every week.”