Dallas Cowboys

Amari Cooper has moved on from drop, but takes blame for two Dak Prescott INTs

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is finally appreciating his record-setting performance in the 34-24 loss against the Green Bay Packers.

He had 11 catches for a career-high 226 yards and a touchdown. The yards are the most he’s ever had in a game, including college and the NFL.

He is the first Cowboys receiver to record two 200-yard performances. He had 217 in a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

“I mean, when I look back on it, I was able to overcome that initial drop and catch everything after that so I was proud of that because obviously when you drop a ball early in the game it could be worse,” he said. “You can go on to drop many more balls or stuff like that.”

Yes, Cooper’s record day was partially spurred on by a first-quarter drop that turned into an interception, which helped send the Cowboys into a hole they could never get out of.

He was proud of the way he responded.

“I’m kind of like a perfectionist when it comes to just having a complete game so it’s always kind of different for me to shake off a drop or something like that,” Cooper said.

And make no mistake about it, it was a drop. While the pass from quarterback Dak Prescott was slightly behind him, Cooper said it was all on him.

“Nah, it hit both of my hands. It wasn’t too far behind,” Cooper said. “It’s a routine catch for me. It wasn’t in front of me, but that’s an easy catch. Easy grab.”

Cooper also took responsibility for Prescott’s second interception when he threw late on a crossing pass intended for receiver Randall Cobb.

“I’ve got to get off the ball quicker,” Cooper said. “He threw it to (Cobb) but it’s my job to get over the top and clear out the defense there. I didn’t get there in time. So I think that was on me, too. The first one was definitely me.”

Nobody on the Cowboys is blaming Cooper, who leads the team with 32 receptions for 512 yards and five touchdowns. The yards and touchdowns rank second in the NFL.

And he is doing this despite battling plantar fasciitis and ankle and quad injuries.

He has been everything the Cowboys hoped for since they acquired him in a bye-week trade with the Oakland Raiders last season.

Coach Jason Garrett gushes with praise every time he is asked about Cooper.

“He’s just such a good player for so many different reasons,” Garrett said “I think if you start with his approach, how smart he is as a guy, how smart he is as a football player, how important it is to him. He certainly has all the physical tools you want. He has a big, strong body. He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s explosive. He can change directions. And then, I think he has patience.

“He’s a really complete player,” Garrett continued without taking a breath. “He runs routes from inside and outside. He can run routes at all three levels of the defense. He certainly makes a lot of little plays for us, and he’s made a lot of big plays for us. He played outstanding in game the other day.”

But then there was the drop that made Cooper so angry and frustrated after the game that he didn’t want to talk about anything else and didn’t want to be asked about his record performance.

But now?

“I’ve moved on. Yeah, I moved on,” Cooper said with a smile. “I’ve just got to stay in that place so you concentrate and just catch the ball first. It’s the most important thing. And then run, that’s it.”

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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.