NFL: Cooper Rush’s underdog story continues as Cowboys visit Rams
Hollywood loves its unassuming heroes, which makes it only fitting that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush brings his Clark Kent act to Los Angeles on Sunday.
Rush has won three consecutive starts since taking over for an injured Dak Prescott in Week 2. He is expected to get at least one more chance to start in a visit to the Los Angeles Rams with Prescott out yet again following surgery on his right thumb.
While Prescott is getting closer to a return, he has not participated in practice this week and Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in an interview on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas that his starting QB still is having issues completely gripping a football.
Rush knows the routine well: Manage the game and avoid making mistakes. A backup in his fifth season, Rush has not thrown an interception in any of his three starts (89 attempts) and is doing just enough with an average of 224.3 yards passing in those three victories.
“It’s been fun and I’ve been trying to enjoy it, but the NFL (level of play) doesn’t let you enjoy it much,” Rush said. “You have to go out week in and week out and go play. … QB win stats are what they are. It’s a team game.”
Yet the Rush rags-to-riches story ignores one key element. The Cowboys (3-1) are nowhere without one of the top defenses in the NFL that has 15 sacks and has destroyed the internal clocks of opposing quarterbacks this season.
“They’re the reason we’re winning, it’s just plain and simple,” Rush said after the Cowboys earned a 25-10 victory over the Washington Commanders last Sunday. “Those guys, I mean, 10 points in the NFL is pretty impressive. … As an offense, knowing they have your back like that, it’s huge. One of their messages is we have everyone’s back. They walk the walk.”
Another boon to the Rush cause was the return of wide receiver Michael Gallup for his season debut after recovering from a knee injury. Gallup had two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Aside from Prescott, who did not practice Wednesday, cornerback Jourdan Lewis also was out, as was tight end Jake Ferguson.
While the Cowboys have found a winning formula, the defending Super Bowl champion Rams (2-2) have been sputtering along. Their latest defeat came Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers, as they fell 24-9.
The uneven play from Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford continued as he went 32 of 48 for 254 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Stafford has been intercepted an NFL-leading six times after throwing 17 picks last season, which was tied for the most in the league.
A patchwork Rams offensive line has prevented consistency. The running game has struggled behind Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr., while Stafford has been sacked 16 times in four games.
“We want to do a good job of putting our guys in the right spots, starting with (Stafford),” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “That’s our job as coaches to provide that clarity, making as many good decisions as we can. Then when we do have options to get in and out of looks, is there clarity from us?”
Center Brian Allen (knee) and guard David Edwards (concussion) were out against the 49ers, and Allen did not practice Wednesday, while Edwards was limited. Guard Coleman Shelton (ankle) also did not practice.
While the Rams were able to get the best of the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals in a pair of one-possession victories, they fell to both the Buffalo Bills (31-10) and 49ers, who used dynamic defenses to their benefit.
Now the Rams face another high-level defense in the Cowboys in an attempt to get their offense moving and get some production out of new wideout Allen Robinson II, who has just nine receptions on 18 targets in four games for 95 yards.
Stafford has been locked in on either Cooper Kupp (42 receptions, 402 yards, three touchdowns) or Tyler Higbee (26 receptions, 244 yards).
–Field Level Media