ARLINGTON, Texas --  The Dallas Cowboys knew they were getting an electric playmaker when they drafted wide receiver CeeDee Lamb 17th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. That's why they made him wear jersey No. 88, a number worn by Dallas' greatest wide receivers: Pro Football Hall of Famer Drew Pearson (1973-1983), Pro Football Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (1988-1999) and the team's all-time receiving touchdowns leader Dez Bryant (73 from 2010-2017). 

"When he came out there at Oklahoma, his run after catch was just phenomenal, and we got every reason to believe that if he can do that, then he could not only have that after catch, but he could also be an initial ball carrier, which we use him as," Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said postgame Saturday night.

What Jones and the Cowboys didn't know was that Lamb would re-write their single-season franchise records. He broke Hall of Famer Michael Irvin's single-season franchise records for catches and receiving yards  that were both set in 1995, Dallas' last Super Bowl championship season, by totaling a career-high 227 yards and one touchdown on a career-high 13 catches with Irvin himself in attendance for Hall of Fame head coach Jimmy Johnson's Ring of Honor induction

"Well, of course, boy, he (Lamb) stepped up ahead of a, as I say, a war daddy there in Michael Irvin, I was still reminded when it showed him at the top (with Lamb's single-season receiving yards record) of Michael's four top years," Jones said. "What an outstanding player Michael was, what an outstanding quarterback tandem we had with Troy Aikman at that time with Emmitt Smith. That reminded me of that, but let's talk about Lamb. Lamb has come out here, it's a credit to Dak, but he was impressive. And of course, the way he got the record tonight was extraordinarily impressive in my mind too. He obviously was a difference out there."

The Herculean effort came in a thrilling 20-19 Dallas victory over the NFC North champion Detroit Lions. Lamb is now up to 122 receptions and 1,651 receiving yards through 16 games, the new Cowboys franchise single-season records and the most in the NFL entering Sunday of Week 17. Cowboys Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin highlighted postgame that Lamb broke Irvin's records in the same amount of games as "The Playmaker", saying "It's cool he did it in 16 games too."

"Well, I'll say this, if I had known for sure that he would break that 88's (Michael Irvin's) records, then, we wouldn't have had any question about it," Jones said. "You know, we had to really sell him on 88. He had his mind on another number (his collegiate number two) and I finally had to pull rank."

Lamb himself had to pull rank following the Cowboys' embarrassing 42-10 faceplant at the San Francisco 49ers in Week 5 when his season totals were 358 receiving yards on 27 catches. Following that game, he questioned Dallas' offensive identity and went on the record declaring he wanted and needed the ball. Since Week 6, Lamb's 95 catches and 1,293 receiving yards lead the NFL. Not so coincidentally, quarterback Dak Prescott's 27 touchdowns to just four interceptions in that same stretch rank as the league's best touchdown-to-interception ratio in that span. 

"Remarkable, that's what CeeDee Lamb is," Prescott said postgame. "What a great opportunity for him just to have the game that he had tonight understanding that he was coming into this game with records on the line, which I didn't know about until you guys informed me... Getting open after the 2.3 [initial seconds on a play], beat man coverage, get in the right spots and zones. He can do it all and he's continuing to get better. He wants to get better, hungry to get better, hungry for the ball. Has one of the hungriest mindsets that I've been around in this game of football and its fun. With a similar mindset, when the ball is in your hands, I can definitely understand and relate. Makes it easy, makes my job easy. He's special."

While some teammates might chafe at a receiver directly demanding the football publicly in the way Lamb did earlier this season, Prescott loved it because he knew all the work the duo banked this past offseason. 

"Yeah, from the jump, I talk about the mentality that he has," Prescott said. "There's not a lot of players that truly have that dog in them, I guess you can say. I don't want to say there's not a lot, but he has a different level than me. We go back to the Niners game or we even go back to last week [when Lamb had zero targets in the second and third quarter of a 22-20 loss at the Miami Dolphins], the frustration of not getting the ball. The guy thinks that he can win the game by himself, and that's what you want. ... When you have a guy like that that has much confidence and gets to show it and when he does, he steps up to the plate and answers it. It's special, as I have said before. It makes my job easy. Starting off, it's his mentality. Secondly, his athletic ability. The ability to run after the catch; he runs physical. He runs like a running back. He can break tackles. And then last, he's one to learn to make sure that we're always on the same page communicating. He understands where I want to throw the ball, where I want him to be and expect him to be. This is really only the beginning. He loves to work and that probably lastly is his love to work. Go into the offseason and nobody got more hours in than me and CeeDee. I can promise you that and that won't change."

That understanding couldn't have been more evident than on the first touchdown of Saturday night, a 92-yard touchdown pass from Prescott to Lamb, created by Prescott's backyard scramble and faith in Lamb to heave it downfield to number 88. 

"I saw that they were bringing the blitz," Prescott said. "I was trying to take one-on-one from the slot to Brandin Cooks right there. He got wide a little bit, and the corner was off. That made that tough. At that point, the pressure got to me and I felt bodies on me. I said I've got to find a way to get skinny and get myself out of the endzone. As I went to do that, the pocket opened up. I went right and see CeeDee one-on-one down the field, let it go and put what I can on it, put some air on it giving him a shot. He went and did the rest."

"Shoutout Dak for using his legs, and I just did what I could to stay available and once he gave me the opportunity, I took it," Lamb said postgame. "I'm lit right now. I'm not even going to lie to you."

The completion is the longest of Prescott's career, the longest catch of Lamb's career as well as the second-longest completion in Cowboys history. The only completion longer in team history is Hall of Famer Bob Hayes' catching a 95-yard touchdown pass from Don Meredith in Washington in Week 10 of the 1966 season. The touchdown is also the longest from scrimmage for the entire 2023 season.

"One of the best plays by a quarterback that we've had, that I've seen," Jones said. "But Dak almost got sacked and then has the presence to get it straight and step back and have the strength to throw the ball. Just one of the great plays that I've seen by a quarterback for the Cowboys."

Following Lamb's record-setting night that gave him the single best receiving season in Dallas Cowboys, Prescott made a promise: there's more where that came from for his 24-year-old wide receiver as long he's around. 

"He's really just getting going and I can tell you as long as I'm here, he'll probably stack these records each and every year, to be honest with you," Prescott said. "This is only the beginning."  

This "beginning" has Jones seeing Hall of Fame as he couldn't help but compare Prescott to Lamb with Aikman to Irvin. 

"He's (Lamb) dynamic in our offense," Jones said. "He's really dynamic with Dak (Prescott) as his quarterback, and so they're really getting it going. The Aikman-Irvin thing, shades of that, as far as I'm concerned. They're really hooking up."