Dallas Cowboys

Why WR Amari Cooper changed Scott Linehan’s conservative play on the 75-yard score

Amari Cooper has proven to be a fast learner with the Dallas Cowboys.

Not only has he transformed the offense with his spectacular play, capped by a 10-catch, 217-yard, 3-touchdown performance in the 29-23 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, but he has proven adept enough to change offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s conservative play calls.

Cooper caught touchdown passes of 28, 75 and 15 yards against the Eagles. All three broke ties and were go-ahead scores for the Cowboys. And, of course, the last one was the walk-off winner in overtime.

But the 75-yarder with 3:12 left in the game proved to be an example of Cooper’s intelligence, savvy and courage at a crucial time.

It was first and 10 at the 25 after the Eagles tied the game at 16-16. He was supposed to run a stop route on the play but encouraged quarterback Dak Prescott to change the call because the cornerback had been playing underneath all game.

“It’s interesting, because I actually had another stop route on that play, and they were, if you were watching, really sitting on those stop routes,” Cooper said. “And I was like, this is ridiculous. So when I broke the huddle I was kind of mad and I was like, ‘Dak, come on’. And he was like, ‘just run it bro’. And I guess he thought about it again and he kind of signaled a go route and I was elated when he did that. And I took off, caught the ball, and scored.”

It was just that simple and it has been that simple since he came to the Cowboys in a bye week trade from the Oakland Raiders.

Cooper has caught 40 of 53 passes for 642 yards, a 16.0 average, with touchdowns of 4, 40, 90, 28, 75 and 15 yards in six games with the Cowboys, who are 5-1 in those contests, riding a five-game winning streak.

“I feel like that’s who I am, I feel like I can make those plays to help my team win,” Cooper said. “You know I did it in college a lot, in Oakland, I did it sometimes. But my whole goal is just to be more consistent and to be able to provide that type of play for my team every week. This is really a dream come true. When I thought of playing in the NFL as a youth this is the perfect example of that. It’s a dream come true.”

Prescott has a passer rating of 131.1 throwing to Cooper so it was smart of him to listen to his new receiver and change the Linehan call.

Cooper leads the NFL in receiving yards (642) since Week 9, his first game as a member of the Cowboys.

“He is an incredible player,” Prescott said. “I knew he was good. I knew he was going to get separation and get open and make great catches. But when you just see the run after catch and breaking tackles, and being that great of a player, as I said, I’m just thankful we got that trade.”

And thankful he changed the play call.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.