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CeeDee Lamb savors the moment, gains redemption in Cowboys' win

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The last time CeeDee Lamb ended a game with a touchdown, he was at Foster High School in Richmond, Texas.

So the wide receiver knew to savor the moment after his 35-yard touchdown catch gave the Dallas Cowboys a crucial 35-29 overtime win against the New England Patriots.

"Don't get too many of these," Lamb said.

The last time it happened for the Cowboys came in 2018, when quarterback Dak Prescott hit receiver Amari Cooper for a 15-yard score to beat the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. It was Cooper's third touchdown of the game, and he finished with 10 catches for 217 yards.

On Sunday, Lamb was just as good, finishing with career highs in catches (nine) and yards (149) and matching his career high in touchdowns with two.

On the game winner, he knew he was open only a handful of steps into his over route, throwing his arm in the air to grab Prescott's attention.

Prescott's first read on the bootleg was to tight end Dalton Schultz, but he waited a moment or two and saw Lamb, so he let loose with the throw.

"Nothing fancy," Lamb said. "It was kind of a blown coverage and I saw it early, so I kinda just sprinted to the open field, hoping Dak saw me, and he did."

Lamb kept waiting for somebody to catch up to him, either cornerback Jalen Mills or another New England defender, but no one came and he was able to strut into the end zone, taking a push from Mills as he crossed the goal line.

When he got up, he waved at Mills, the former Eagles corner.

"That was an unbelievable feeling," Lamb said.

His game winner might not even be the most important catch Sunday. That came on the Cowboys' final drive of regulation, four plays after receiver Cedrick Wilson's clutch fourth-down grab kept the Cowboys' chances alive.

After a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on guard Connor Williams, the Cowboys faced third-and-25 from the Dallas 45 with 31 seconds left to play and trailing 29-26.

"It's an all-or-nothing type deal, understanding that we're behind," Lamb said. "For them, [offensive coordinator Kellen Moore] to actually call my number on that route, it was like a redemption moment for myself and I felt pretty good about it."

In the season-opening loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Lamb ran a similar dig route in the third quarter, but was unable to come down with a Prescott pass that was intercepted. Lamb brooded over the missed play in a game that was decided by three points.

Against the Patriots, he wasn't sure he would get the ball at the snap, but he saw Prescott looking at him as he broke across the middle. Lamb made the high grab and came down with a 24-yard gain that set up Greg Zuerlein's field goal from 49 yards to send the game to overtime.

"I touch the ball from now on, it's definitely coming up as a catch," he said. "That's how I play. That's how I look at it from this point. Just motivation, speaking like my inner self through the play and understanding what's at stake."

On the field and again in the locker room, Lamb told Prescott he loved him.

"It was like I'm going to keep reminding him," Lamb said, "because last year, it wasn't like this."

Said Prescott, "I mean, I didn't think it was more than normal. We love each other. We gave each other a couple of hugs. But, now that I know I may go give him another one. He was excited. It was a big game for him. Caught the fade ball in the end zone for the first touchdown, then finished that one off. We went to him a bunch and he made some great plays. That's what we expect out of him."

The Prescott-to-Lamb combination has clicked since the start of the receiver's rookie season in 2020.

Before Prescott suffered the compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in last year's Week 5 win against the New York Giants, they combined on 27 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns. In the first six games this season, they have combined 33 times for 497 yards and four touchdowns.

In 11 games together -- minus the quarter and a half Prescott missed vs. the Giants -- they have combined on 60 receptions for 909 yards and six scores.

Projected over a 17-game season at that pace, Lamb would catch 93 passes for 1,404 yards and nine touchdowns.

"Thought he was on fire," coach Mike McCarthy said of Lamb. "Playing with great confidence. You saw it last week [84 yards and a touchdown vs. New York] and just clearly to another level this week. CeeDee was huge today and not only with the route running and the catching but the yards after catch and particularly the yards after contact. I thought CeeDee had a huge day for us."