Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas --  When a Cowboys wide receiver gets the invite to wear Jersey No. 88, that means they have been identified as worthy to live up to the lofty standard set by those who came before him as Dallas' top target. 

Pro Football Hall of Famer Drew Pearson is the original, wearing the number for 11 seasons from 1973-1983 and becoming a pioneer of the Hail Mary alongside Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach. Hall of Famer Michael Irvin made 88 his as the Cowboys' top receiver on their three Super Bowl title teams of the 1990s while setting numerous team records. Dez Bryant broke Dallas' all-time receiving touchdowns record with 73 in his eight seasons (2010-2017) while rocking the double eights.

Today's No. 88, 24-year-old Pro Bowl wide out CeeDee Lamb, broke one of Irvin's team records with Irvin in the building for Jimmy Johnson's induction into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor Saturday night against the NFC North champion Detroit Lions. Lamb's 112 catches and counting this season lead the NFL, surpassing Irvin's single-season Cowboys catches record of 111 that was set in 1995, Dallas' last Super Bowl championship season. 

The downside of the play in which he broke the record is he fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a touchback to give the Detroit Lions the ball right as the Cowboys were about to go up 14-3. 

"If we win, it will mean a lot more," Lamb said Wednesday about breaking Irvin's record.

Most catches in a season in Cowboys history

2023CeeDee Lamb112*


Michael Irvin



Jason Witten



CeeDee Lamb



Jason Witten


* Two games left in 2023 regular season 

Irvin elaborated about his single-season catches record falling at the hands of Lamb on Fox Sports' "Undisputed" on Friday.

"I love it," Irvin said when asked about Lamb breaking his record. "If you retire a number and they put it in the rafters, they show it in passing and then go right back to the game. If your number is on the best player's back, every time he makes a play, they say 'oh, he looks like Michael Irvin.' If he drops a ball, they say 'Michael Irvin wouldn't have dropped that.' When we get to these places where we're breaking records, I love it. Absolutely, because it brings back the history, especially when this man wears the same number that I did. We have an 88 club, and we text each other all the time: 'Let's keep this in the family.' 

"That's what this means. It perpetuates the growing and the glowing of 88. I love that he is breaking the record. We picked him to wear 88. He called me to ask me about it, and I told him about the responsibility of it. He [Lamb] is upholding his end of wearing that number. It gives hope."

Lamb echoed Irvin's sentiments about the love and support he receives as a member of the Cowboys' 88 club, specifically crediting his guidance throughout his career. 

"That's my dawg," Lamb said of Irvin. "We have plenty of conversations. For starters, as soon as I got in [to the NFL], he took me in. Wear his number, help me understand the legacy. Then as I was going on through this process, the good, the bad, he's always been in my corner, giving me tips. Then obviously when he comes inside the locker room he shows love, unconditional. Shout out to Mike for that. We chasing... We're going to celebrate [the record] together."

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has such a confidence in his top target that he doesn't even think the two will talk about the record prior to Saturday night. 

"How many does he need?" Prescott asked Wednesday, before being told three. "Oh, that's easy. I don't even think that needs to be discussed. That's easy, yeah."

Prescott, Lamb look to punish defenses for all four quarters

Lamb dominated the Dolphins defense early in the Cowboys' 22-20 Week 16 road loss, totaling 102 scrimmage yards on five touches in the first quarter, including a 49-yard catch-and-run explosion of a touchdown. Then, he stunningly didn't have a touch across the second and third quarters before catching a couple passes for 25 yards and and adding five more yards on the ground. Lamb finished with 132 yards from scrimmage (118 receiving on six catches, including the touchdowns, and 14 yards rushing on two carries). 

During Lamb's lack of involvement, three of the Cowboys' four full possessions ended in punts (not including the end of the half). The other drive concluded with a 43-yard field goal. 

"I think a lot of factors played into that," Prescott said of Lamb's lack of involvement in the middle of the game. "They [the Dolphins] got the rush going a little bit, getting me off the spot. We talked about them clouding the coverage to CeeDee, putting more people to his side. Wasn't giving us quite as favorable looks as they were early in the game. That's a credit to [Dolphins defensive coordinator [Vic] Fangio. Guy's been around for a long time, is a hell of a play-caller. He wasn't going to sit there and allow CeeDee to have a career day. But maybe one or two I could say this or that, but overall, well done by them and we just couldn't get out of our own way. Whether that was two drives starting backed up within the 5-yard line. That's never easy there. Credit to them."

Two tangible things Prescott pointed to that the team can correct moving forward to avoid such an occurrence is to maintain solid starting field position and as well as the health of eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith

"Yeah, don't start backed up as much as we did," Prescott said. "I think that helps for one. And then two, CeeDee's ready, just moving him around, giving them one look and then maybe motion him away from that side. See that they [the defense] can communicate on the fly as well as we can motion."

Smith, 33, is questionable for Saturday with a back injury that held him out of Week 16 against the Dolphins, but Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he's optimistic about Smith's prognosis entering the weekend. 

"I feel good about it," Jones said Friday on 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas, via The Athletic. "They're feeling good about it across the board, trainers, coaches, Tyron. They're all feeling good about it."  

Prescott categorized his blindside protector's presence on the field as "vital." Smith's 89.9 Pro Football Focus pass-blocking grade is the highest among all NFL offensive lineman this season among those who have played at least 100 offensive snaps. He has yet to allow a sack this season. 

"It's vital," Prescott said of Smith's importance to maintaining the timing and rhythm in the passing game. "I think you can go back and look over my eight years here. I'm probably a better player and we're probably a better offense when that guy's out there. He's a Hall of Famer, one of the best to do this and been one of the best to do this since he stepped in the league. Credit to those guys that step in, Chuma [Edoga] coming in, doing his job. But it's hard to replace a guy like that. So the confidence that he brings not only for myself but for the group is huge."

Lamb's 1,424 receiving yards rank as the second-most in the NFL behind only Dolphins All-Pro Tyreek Hill's 1,641, and that total has him in position to break another one of Irvin's team single-season records, the single-season receiving yards mark. He needs 180 yards across the final two games of the season to break Irvin's 1,603 total from the 1995 season. Given the Cowboys are 4-1 this season when Lamb totals at least 10 catches, Dallas would certainly benefit from continuing to feed him the football as much possible. However at the end of the day for Lamb, it's all about whatever it takes to secure a victory. 

"I just know what I can contribute to the team, what type of player I am," Lamb said. "I've worked hard to be in this position, as has everybody else on this team. Just putting myself in the best position to continue. I like to win, overall. It's not so much about the stat. It's whatever the stat ends up being after the game, that's cool. But throughout the game, it's not 'oh shit, I've got 100 yards in the first quarter'…That's not it. It's just I like to win. Like I really have an obsession with winning.... I like winning a lot. I'm going to say that again. I love winning a lot."