“I’ve worked so hard just on catching the ball,” Lamb said. “Honestly, I kept saying, ‘I don’t know where that s--- came from. Dropping the ball has never been my forte.’ I want to say that was my first one of the season. That s--- is annoying. I made a promise to the guys, and you can tell the fans too, that it won’t happen again. I promise you.”
Monday wasn’t Lamb’s most productive game. Not in terms of catches or yards. It wasn’t even a 100-yard game.
But it might just have been the most important game for Lamb.
It was how he reacted to the adversity and made some of the game-deciding receptions in the second half.
A second-quarter drop of a perfectly thrown pass from quarterback Cooper Rush (who started his second straight game in place of the injured Dak Prescott) for what would have been at least a 33-yard gain if not a touchdown, was followed by a drop of a tipped pass that could have put the Cowboys (2-1) in better field goal range.
If anybody knows about the pressure of wearing No. 88 as a Cowboys receiver, it’s Lamb.
“I feel like the plays like that are molding me into the player I am today,” Lamb said. “I’m building on it.”
In the second half, Lamb gained redemption. He caught six of his eight passes for 67 of his 87 yards, including a one-handed touchdown catch with 8:30 remaining in the corner of the end zone that had another No. 88, Dez Bryant, going nuts in a MetLife Stadium suite.
“Resiliency,” quarterback Dak Prescott, who missed his second straight game Monday, said. “A guy, a baller who expects to make plays. Obviously, he understood that was a play he missed, and it’s my job and everybody’s job to say, ‘Hey, you’ll get it back. Don’t get down.’... And sure enough, he came back play after play like nothing ever happened and made the biggest catch when he needed to -- one-handed and kept two feet in too.”
The touchdown wasn’t Lamb’s favorite catch against the Giants (2-1).
“Fourth-down catch, because without it, I don’t get no touchdown,” Lamb said.
Mike McCarthy opted to take a fourth-and-4 risk from the New York 41 with 10:27 to play. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore had Rush look Lamb’s way with a quick route in the slot.
Two plays later, Rush found Lamb along the sideline for a 26-yard gain that saw him bowl over Adoree' Jackson. And, yes, he had the drops in his mind as he made the gain.
“You can say that,” Lamb said. “The opportunity to showcase my strength and, honestly, it was like I didn’t feel like dancing. I wasn’t going to give him the benefit of the doubt of just pushing me out. So he had to feel me.”
Then came the touchdown catch.
“I was a little mad we threw it on the 1-yard line,” right guard Zack Martin said, “but it’s CeeDee making the big-time catch. I was happy for him coming back and responding the right way.”
In the season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lamb caught two of the 11 passes thrown his way for 29 yards. In the Week 2 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, he caught seven passes for 75 yards but couldn’t find the end zone.
“CeeDee’s the guy you don’t really worry that type of mentality with him,” Rush said. “He’s a big-time player. He’s going to make plays. The ball’s coming his way some more, so he knew it, I knew it, we all knew it, and he was fine.”
Against the Giants with the game tied, Lamb came through and scored a touchdown for the first time since Week 10 last season. On the go-ahead drive, Lamb caught four passes for 48 yards.
“There’s going to be ebbs and flows,” Lamb said of his evolution into a No. 1 receiver. “It’s all about staying consistent, staying positive. Everything’s not going to go my way [but] when it does, it’s going to go big.”