FRISCO, Texas — CeeDee Lamb says he doesn't think the best stretch of his career happens without the Dallas receiver sounding off about his limited role in the blowout loss to San Francisco that preceded it.
Dak Prescott doesn't want to downplay the conversations that grew out of that humbling day in California, but says the way that 42-10 loss played out was “just different.”
Coach Mike McCarthy tends to agree with his quarterback on whether Lamb's current run of three consecutive 100-yard games was sparked by the visible frustration from Lamb against the Niners.
“It’s a great story, but I think he played this way last year, in my opinion,” McCarthy said. “Everybody is frustrated, and I appreciate those conversations. I don’t know if I’d say it’s a catalyst. I’d say it’s a reminder of what he can do with the ball.”
To McCarthy's point, it's not the first time Lamb has caught at least 100 yards in passes in three straight games. But it's the first time he reset his career high in consecutive weeks, capped by a 191-yard day in a 28-23 loss to NFC East-leading and division rival Philadelphia last weekend.
Lamb will try to make it four in a row for the first time in the 2020 first-round draft pick's four seasons when the Cowboys (5-3) play the New York Giants (2-7) at home Sunday.
Losing to the Eagles left Dallas a difficult task trying to overtake the defending NFC champions in the division.
At the same time, it illustrated again Lamb's rising stock among the league's best since his 11 catches and 17.4-yard average coincided with the end of Philadelphia receiver A.J. Brown's NFL-record streak of six consecutive games with at least 125 yards receiving (he had seven catches for 66 yards).
Not that Lamb was trying to measure himself against anybody.
“I wanted to go out there and win the game and have a great game but not necessarily to compete against him,” Lamb said. “I competed in it, but we lost, so there’s that.”
Lamb had 143 yards and set up both TD passes from Prescott in a 30-10 win over the New York Jets in Week 2. But his three lowest outputs of the season followed, capped by 49 yards on four catches against the Niners.
The frustration was clear on the sidelines, and Lamb wasn't shy about addressing it with reporters in the days that followed. McCarthy and Prescott weren't either, both suggesting they tried to counsel Lamb on the best way to deal with those frustrations, and communicate them to the coach and quarterback.
“I feel like without that conversation we wouldn’t have really got to where we are now,” Lamb said. “And I feel like the elevation of the offense is amazing. I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for Mike trusting in me. I’m grateful for the team trusting in me and my abilities.”
Prescott tried to make sure Lamb understood why the ball didn't come his way when it didn't, but also realized he should simply give Lamb more chances to make plays.
After five targets against San Francisco, Lamb had seven — with seven catches for 117 yards — in a 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. Next came 14 targets, 12 catches, 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-20 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, then a career-high 16 targets against the Eagles.
“It wasn’t about the conversation as much as it was about just looking at matchups and making sure he understands, regardless of the leverage, regardless of a lot of times, the coverage, you’re going to win and I know you can win,” Prescott said. “You expect to win. Let’s do that.”
The Cowboys move Lamb around in the formation, part of the reason he has thrived without significant help from his fellow receivers.
Lamb has 57 catches for 824 yards, which was fifth in the NFL entering Week 10. Second among wideouts for Dallas is Michael Gallup with 22 catches for 243 yards.
Brandin Cooks, who was supposed to become the primary deep threat as a trade pickup, has just 17 catches for 165 yards and is coming off a season-low two targets in the showdown with the Eagles.
Lamb, meanwhile, is averaging 100 yards per game (103) beyond Week 1 for the first time in his career.
“I guess I didn't realize watching him from afar how good he is with the ball in his hands,” said Brian Schottenheimer, in his second season with the Cowboys and first as offensive coordinator. “He runs like a running back with the ball in his hands. That's why he's a tough tackle.”
After a not-so-gentle reminder, the Cowboys have been getting the ball in Lamb's hands quite a bit lately.