For all the justifiable praise of three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper, there’s another weapon of Dak Prescott’s and the Dallas Cowboys that has not-so-quietly made waves in 2019. Michael Gallup, the team’s third-round pick in 2018, is having a breakout sophomore effort after having delivered an impressive freshman season in the NFL.
The 23-year-old has already racked up a career-high 678 receiving yards this year — already 171 more than his entire 2018 season, and despite having missed two games with a knee injury. His 148-yard explosion in the Cowboys’ win over the Detroit Lions in Week 11 marks the third 100-yard game for Gallup in seven starts, and it isn’t even his highest tally of 2019. That honor goes to his season opener against the New York Giants when he hung a career-high 158 yards on Big Blue.
Currently the second-best receiver on the Cowboys roster, Gallup could easily be a No. 1 target with any team where Cooper doesn’t also suit up, and the duo has become arguably the most dangerous in the NFL. Anyone needing more evidence should look no further than the eye-popping 41-yard circus catch Gallup reeled in with 5:41 remaining the first half against the Lions, which was then capped by one of Ezekiel Elliott’s two touchdowns on the day.
The Cowboys were losing 14-10 at the time, and it was both the play of the game and the turning point, helping the Cowboys grab a 17-14 lead going into halftime. Gallup isn’t ashamed to admit something about the catch, though, and it’s a testament to what kind of a player he is.
“Honestly, I ran the wrong route on it,” Gallup said with a smile, via Jane Slater of NFL Network. “I ran the wrong route. I was supposed to run a comeback because it wasn’t Cover 2, but instead I ran a seven [route] and took a high angle because the defensive back was up under me. That’s exactly why I needed to catch the ball.
“I made a great effort to try and catch the ball, because I ran the wrong route. And I wasn’t about to hear it on the sideline.”
As you can see below, sometimes a mistake is the best thing that can happen to you, if you have the talent and drive to make it so.
The play, performance, and subsequent victory held a deeper meaning for Gallup, though, who lost his brother to suicide 364 days prior, on Nov. 18, 2018, then eight days after his brother’s birthday. What began as an Atlanta homecoming for Gallup as the Cowboys took on the Falcons last season devolved into tragedy, and as he continues to play inspired football, Gallup notes his brother is always in his thoughts.
For every yard he racked up against the Lions, Gallup notes his brother is “up there watching me”.
“I would definitely say [his passing led to my inspired play today],” Gallup said. “My mom didn’t hit me up about it this week because she wants me to stay focused, but yea, coming into the stadium — it felt a little different. Last year, I thought my brother was watching the whole time, and he really wasn’t. So I needed to just come in here and play that one for him.”
Gallup did just that, and he shows no signs of slowing down going forward. He’s currently on pace to deliver his first 1,000-yard NFL season in only two years as a pro, and his tandem with Cooper could help the Cowboys field the first duo of 1,000-yard receivers since 2012 when Dez Bryant and Jason Witten led the way.
The Cowboys currently own the best offense in the NFL, and Gallup is a key reason for that, as he pulls fuel from a higher power.