FRISCO, Texas -- What Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb is doing in the 2023 season can be described with many different words or phrases: "locked in" ... "in the zone" ... "playing on another level." Another word that is now appropriate at the halfway point of the 2023 NFL season: historic.
He has over 100 receiving yards in each of his last four games, including setting and resetting his career high in receiving yards in two of the last three weeks. He totaled 117 yards on seven catches in a 20-17 Week 6 win at the Los Angeles Chargers, 158 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns on 12 catches against the Los Angeles Rams in a 43-20 Week 8 win, 191 receiving yards on 11 catches at the Philadelphia Eagles in a 28-23 Week 9 defeat, and 151 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown on 11 catches as well as a 14-yard wide receiver reverse rushing touchdown in the Cowboys' 49-17 Week 10 home win against the New York Giants in Week 10.
"Absolutely," Lamb said postgame Sunday when asked if he is currently in the zone. "I'm one of one. I'm a top receiver in this game, and there's no question about it. Competitors, see y'all again next week."
His three-game stretch with 10 or more catches and 150 or more receiving yards makes him the first player in NFL history with those numbers in three games in a row. His 617 receiving yards since Week 6 are the most in the NFL, 127 more than the next closest player -- Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (490 receiving yards) -- and they are the most in a four-game span by any player in Cowboys history.
"I really can't and obviously I shouldn't because it's a historical thing that just happened," Cowboys offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said Monday when asked if he has seen someone play the way Lamb has during his record-breaking run. "He's just amazing. [Against the Giants], he made a big play when they doubled him. If you watch some of the things he's doing at the line of scrimmage, releasing and things like that, even when he is doubled. We believe that even if a guy is doubled that doesn't mean he is covered. There is a place you can throw the ball. I always go back to the way he works. What I respect the hell about him is he came out and said 'hey I want the ball' and we gave him the ball, they started doubling him and we still gave him the ball. It was really cool for him to do that, and I didn't know about the record. Every week is different. They said he needed whatever it was, so I'm proud of him."
CeeDee Lamb since Week 6: NFL rankings
Team Target Pct
* Played only four of a possible five games in span because of Week 7 bye
** Most in a four-game span in Cowboys history
It's very meaningful," Lamb said Thursday. "Obviously, it means I'm doing something correct and all the hard work is paying off, but the job is still not done."
Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy coached up multiple Pro Bowl or All-Pro wide receivers -- Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams -- in his 13 seasons as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, 2006-2018, but never before he has seen the kind of prolific production strung together consecutively the way Lamb has over the last four games.
"We had a great group up there in Green Bay, those guys all had their time and their moment, but I don't think I've seen it to this level," Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "Well obviously it's an NFL record, so I guess not. CeeDee is in a unique spot, and the big thing for us is we have to keep working to give him more opportunities. But more importantly, the individuals around him take advantage of and benefit from the opportunities he is creating for them."
Lamb is just 25 receiving yards away with 975 this season, the third-most in the NFL, from hitting 1,000 yards this season, and if he does so at the Carolina Panthers in Week 11, he would truly be in a unique spot, becoming the second-fastest Cowboy (10 games) to hit 1,000 receiving yards in a season, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's best season in 1995, the last of Dallas' three Super Bowl titles in the 1990's. With another 100-yard performance on Sunday, Lamb would have five consecutive games over the century mark, joining Irvin (seven in a row in 1995) as the only Dallas players to do so. That is certainly on the table against the 1-8 Carolina Panthers since they will be without two starting cornerbacks: Jaycee Horn (hamstring) and C.J. Henderson (concussion), according to the Athletic.
Lamb's 68 catches this season are tied for the sixth-most in the league entering Week 11, and if he maintains his current All-Pro pace, he could very well shatter Irvin's franchise, single-season catches and yards records when it's all said and done.
Cowboys single-season receiving records
|Current Record Holder (Record)
|CeeDee Lamb 2023 total
|CeeDee Lamb On-Pace Total
1995 Michael Irvin (111)
1995 Michael Irvin (1,603)
"A lot, a lot," Lamb said when asked Thursday how much he would like to have Irvin's franchise records. "It's not necessarily my focus, but at the end of it all, that's definitely something that I'm trying to be on top of it.
"Just embracing it. There's not really much I can think about right now. Obviously coming up with the next week of a game , and I can't really reflect on it right now. I can just put my head down the ground, continue to do better, be better, for myself and my team and I always figure out ways of being a better player."
What means the most to the Cowboys fourth-year wide receiver is that this record-breaking run is occurring during a stretch in which Dallas has won three of their last four games.
"Absolutely," Lamb said when asked if it meant more since the production was coming mostly in wins. "With my explosion and then B Cooks coming along [a season-high 173 yards and a touchdown on nine catches in Week 10] and we're about to get TP [running back Tony Pollard] going. So just putting all our pieces together, our weapons doing what they got to do. The offense can be great."
Lamb's ability to get molten lava hot isn't new given his final year at Oklahoma in 2019, he recorded five games with over 135 receiving yards in an eight-game stretch in which the Sooners won seven of eight.
"Feels a bit identical, but this is not college," Lamb said. "This is where the big boys at."
One of the NFL's best corners across the last decade, Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a five-time Pro Bowler, is in his first season as a teammate of Lamb's. He believes his moves off of the line scrimmage are some of the best in the league today as well as what makes Lamb a uniquely difficult cover.
"I think his release game [off the line of scrimmage], and once he gets the ball, a lot of YAC [yards after catch]," Gilmore said Thursday when asked what makes Lamb a hard coverage assignment. "He wants the ball, and he'll tell you that. That's one thing I like about him. He embraces the challenge every week. When the ball comes his way, he can make a play with one hand, two hands, he makes big catches. You get the ball in his hands, he's hard to bring down.... He just changes it [his release off the line of scrimmage] up. He has kind of like a basketball release a little bit. Sometimes you can't really get a tell on it, and he does a great job at it."
No matter how Lamb has freed himself off the line during this hot stretch, he can always find his way back to the football. Quarterback Dak Prescott attempted to heave a pass off one foot, fading away from the throw to avoid a sack late against the Giants, but Lamb was able to track the football and still make the catch despite Prescott's best efforts to heave the football out of bounds.
"I'll be honest," Prescott said with a grin Sunday. "I was throwing it away, but that's CeeDee Lamb being CeeDee Lamb."
Even Lamb's fellow pass-catchers are in awe about what he is doing.
"The one-legged fadeaway was the crazy one for me," Cowboys second-year tight end Jake Ferguson said Wednesday. "I remember standing on the sideline on the field and I was like 'what the hell just happened'? Then I saw CeeDee run back and catch, and I'm like 'ok, this unbelievable.'" I still remember playing Madden with these two [Prescott and Lamb] and now I'm a part of it. It's pretty surreal for me.... I still sit in the huddle sometimes, and I'm like 'what the hell is going on?' I'm a part of this.' Surreal is really the only word that can come to mind right now."
That play may seem irregular or improbable to those who don't see Lamb operate in practice on a regular basis, but to his teammates, those type of plays from the two-time Pro Bowler are the norm.
"He is constantly getting better," Ferguson said. "He makes those catches in practice all the time, and it doesn't surprise us. It doesn't surprise me at all that they come out in games. It's exciting. We can be dangerous."