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Cooper Rush, filling in for injured Dak Prescott, delivers huge win for Dallas Cowboys: 'Just as good as the dream'

With a 20-16 win against the Minnesota Vikings, things could not have worked out better for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

Dak Prescott was able to gain extra rest for his right calf strain, Cooper Rushwas able to show he can deliver if needed as the backup quarterback, and the Cowboys won their sixth straight game.

"This was definitely a gut-check win for us," coach Mike McCarthy said.

That Rush played was not too surprising considering Prescott did not take any team snaps in practice during the week, focusing on his rehab from a calf injury he suffered while throwing the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime to beat the New England Patriots on Oct. 17.

That he played so well was -- considering he entered Sunday with just 2 career yards on 1-of-3 passing and had not thrown a pass since 2017. A year ago, Rush did not make the Cowboys' roster; on Sunday he delivered a massive win.

"You definitely dream about them and it's just as good as the dream," said Rush, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 325 yards with 2 touchdowns, including a 5-yard fade to Amari Cooper with 51 seconds to play.

His first touchdown pass -- a 73-yarder to Cedrick Wilson in the third quarter -- was the longest thrown by a Cowboys quarterback in his first start since Roger Staubach had a 75-yarder in 1969.

A year ago, the Cowboys' season was lost when Prescott went down with a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5. They went 4-7 without Prescott and finished 6-10 in McCarthy's first year.

"I felt like I belonged out there," Rush said. "In the huddle, breaking the huddle, getting to the line, going through your processes, it didn't feel overwhelming at all. I haven't played a lot but being around the NFL, you're practicing against these guys every day and our defense is pretty good. ... It never felt too big in terms of the speed. I just felt in command."

Prescott went through his normal pregame warmup with director of rehabilitation Britt Brown on Sunday. After nearly 20 minutes of work, Prescott, McCarthy and Brown had a quick discussion. Prescott remained on the field and threw some passes before heading back to the locker room. He was officially on the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff.

"I had a plan all week, trying to progress and get myself out there," Prescott said. "We made a call at the end of having a chance to come out with win, without me playing, and be able to get healthy and not have something re-injure and linger past this week."

Prescott was on the sideline during the game, wearing a headset and ready to offer advice to Rush, a teammate since 2017.

"There wasn't a moment I thought he was too high or nervous or rattled. That's Coop," Prescott said. "He's very mild tempered and always that way -- never too high or too low. It showed tonight. It allowed him to stay in there, stick to it, stick through some bad plays and come out and make some great plays to win the game that we needed in the fourth quarter."

The Cowboys play the Denver Broncos on Nov. 7 and while McCarthy did not indicate Prescott would start for sure, the Cowboys believe the added time off with more rehab and practice work will keep the calf strain from being an issue for the remainder of the season.

Leading into the Vikings' game, McCarthy and Prescott said it would be a group decision. While he looked fine during the warmup, the judgment was made to hold him out, despite his wishes.

"Can he play the game a certain way or can he play the game 100%? We looked at all those things," McCarthy said. "And frankly at the end of the day, I think this is a great opportunity for us as a football team to grow and win through another adverse moment. We didn't have our leader. We didn't have our starting quarterback out there and we went out and won a tough game in a hostile environment on the road.

"So it was a great opportunity for us, and definitely feel like we made the right decision."

Source: ESPN

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