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Statement made: Cowboys WR Michael Gallup rediscovers old form in win vs. Washington

Nine months to the day of his injury, Gallup returned to action and made his presence felt.

ARLINGTON — Michael Gallup imagined this.

Catching a pass in the end zone. The crowd roaring in approval. Teammates smacking his helmet and slapping his back in celebration. CeeDee Lamb motioning his hands as if bestowing a crown upon the Cowboys wide receiver’s head.

On Jan. 2, Gallup suffered a significant left knee injury when vaulting for a touchdown that he somehow still managed to secure. Between pre-surgery rest and flexibility work, a Feb. 10 procedure and months of grueling rehabilitation, he envisioned his next score.

The goal was not to come back.

“I needed to make a statement,” Gallup said Sunday.

Nine months to the day of his torn ACL and MCL, Gallup converted a third down and caught a 9-yard touchdown during a second-quarter drive that gave the Cowboys a lead they never relinquished. He then drew two pass interference penalties, resulting in a combined 65 yards, to help lift the Cowboys to a 25-10 win over the Washington Commanders.

On the touchdown, Gallup recognized that pressure flushed Cooper Rush from the pocket. He went into scramble-drill mode, sprinting parallel with Rush toward the back-right pylon and getting open behind Lamb.

Rush, who hit Gallup in stride, called the connection a “classic MG play.”

The score gave Dallas a 12-7 lead.

“It’s exactly what you would expect from him,” Rush said. “He looked like Mike Gallup. … Big-time player, and I’m really happy for him. It was big for him to go back out there and say, ‘I’m still Michael Gallup,’ by making plays, and that’s really going to help us.”

Gallup started and played about 40 offensive snaps in his return.

The crowd at AT&T Stadium gave its raucous approval when his first catch, a 15-yarder, converted a third-and-8. Dallas had opened the game just 1-of-5 on third down. Gallup’s conversion was the first of three straight on the drive he capped with the touchdown.

The first pass-interference penalty Gallup drew came on a second-and-8, late in the third quarter with the Cowboys up 15-10. Two plays after the 38-yard flag, Rush hit Lamb for a 30-yard touchdown. A 27-yard interference flag followed in the fourth quarter, helping the team’s field position in a drive that otherwise didn’t net a first down.

Gallup said his favorite part of the day was “the sideline.”

Quarterback Dak Prescott, out with a thumb fracture for a third straight game, was part of it. He was not surprised to see Gallup’s impressive return.

“Honestly, what I expected,” Prescott said. “I’ve seen a guy who was rehabbing over the past few months, knowing what he puts into this, how much he cares, and then seeing him the last few weeks at practice, knowing he was going to go out there and be the same MG he always has been. Just for him to go out there and put it to fruition, having the touchdown, drawing the penalties.

“I think it’s huge for him. I think it’s huge for his confidence. He might tell you — I don’t know — but I bet that buried the injury for him.”

This was a long time coming for Gallup.

It’s a credit to the Cowboys’ medical team, which performed the surgery and had director of rehabilitation Britt Brown working closely with Gallup. It is a credit to the coaching staff for acclimating him in practice over the recent weeks.

Above all, it is a credit to Gallup.

He waited for this. He worked for this. He imagined this.

“It finally happened,” Gallup said.

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