There are always moments in any athlete’s career that define them. A perfect play, a drive, or even a game where it all comes together. For some, the moment becomes a launching point for their careers that they are able to build on.
Let’s focus on one athlete in particular that has become a hot button issue in the local media and among the fanbase, Dak Prescott. Most of the discussion surrounding Prescott has to do with his contract or where he ranks among the elite quarterbacks of the league.
How Prescott got to where he is as the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys can best be described as remarkable considering he was a fourth round pick and rumors suggested that the Cowboys wanted two other middle-round QBs before landing Prescott with the 135th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. It’s a moment in and of itself.
Dak gets his first taste of NFL action in 2016 Preseason opener
When Dak Prescott took the field against the Los Angeles Rams for the preseason opener there were a lot of nerves. Obviously a quarterback taking his first professional snaps would do it but there was anticipation from staff and fans, as well.
Many reports at the time talked about Prescott’s lack of accuracy in training camp leaving many to wonder if he would even make the roster when final cuts were made. Recall, at this point in time, the Cowboys were still trying to win a Super Bowl before Tony Romo’s injuries caught up with him and Kellen Moore was the incumbent backup. No one really foresaw what was about to transpire on the football field but it would change the landscape in Dallas.
Prescott would have to wait a bit longer than anticipated when Lucky Whitehead took the opening kickoff 101 yards for the opening score. On his first pass, following a three and out by the Rams, Prescott missed tight end Geoff Swaim but following that incompletion he wouldn’t miss again.
On the opening drive Prescott went 6-7 for 68 yards. The drive ended with a Prescott touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. On the next drive Prescott completed both of his passes for 55 yards. The final one found Terrance Williams in the endzone on a 32-yard pass where Dak dropped it right in the bucket.
That game gave the Cowboys confidence in Prescott and it gave him confidence in himself that he could indeed be a quarterback in the NFL. Due to injuries to Romo and Moore, he would get his opportunity much sooner than anyone anticipated.
Prescott bounces back from 21-3 deficit in 2016 NFC Divisional Playoff Game
After losing Romo in the preseason “dress rehearsal” game, no one thought that the Cowboys would be playing for a division crown in 2016, much less have the best record in all of the NFC. And yet, Prescott had one of the best seasons by a rookie signal caller in league history – earning AP Offensive Rookie of the Year – and found himself in a playoff matchup against Aaron Rodgers.
The Cowboys had already beaten the Packers once that year to the tune of a 30-16 victory at Lambeau Field. However, this time around, Prescott was staring at a 21-3 deficit with 7:37 remaining in the first half. It was looking like a huge blowout letdown in the making. Dak had other plans.
After falling down 21-3, Prescott would connect with Dez Bryant on a 40-yard touchdown pass to get Dallas in the end zone. After a three and out by the Packers, the Cowboys would go on a 10-play drive that ended on a 33-yard field goal from Dan Bailey before halftime.
After getting to within eight points, the Packers would extend the lead back to 15 with the only seven points scored in the third quarter. Following an interception from Prescott that looked as though it would doom Dallas for good, safety Jeff Heath would return the favor against Rodgers and give Dallas the ball back.
With new life, Prescott gave Dallas a chance with a touchdown pass to Jason Witten to pull back to within one score. The Cowboys would go on to score a total of 18 points in the fourth to tie the game at 31 after a Bailey 52-yard field goal with 0:35 left to go.
We all know how the story ends but it was a moment that proved that Prescott could lead the team back from a big deficit against a top team when it mattered most. The loss didn’t fall on the shoulders of Dak Prescott.
Prescott leads the Cowboys to an overtime victory over Philadelphia
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles were heading into a primetime matchup with NFC East bragging rights at stake. The Cowboys were 7-5 and the Eagles were 6-6. The two rivals had already played once and the Cowboys had come away with a 27-20 victory in Philadelphia to set the stage for a run at the division title.
After a back and forth defensive battle, kicker Brett Maher nailed a 62-yard field goal to put Dallas up by six as time expired in the first half. The offenses didn’t unlock in the third quarter, either, and the two teams headed into the final quarter with the Cowboys clinging to a 9-6 lead. That is when Dak and Amari Cooper went to work.
Following a Jake Elliott field goal that tied the game up at nine apiece, Prescott found Cooper on a 28-yard pass to give Dallas a 16-9 lead. The Eagles answered with a touchdown of their own to tie it once again.
The Cowboys needed just one play to get the lead back on a 75-yard catch and run by Cooper. With both offenses coming to life, the fourth quarter came to a close with the Eagles finding a way to answer and send the game to overtime. In a game that saw four field goals through three quarters, the teams exploded for four touchdowns in the final 12 minutes of the game.
In overtime, the Cowboys won the toss, took the ball, and never let the Eagles see it again. The 14-play drive culminated with Prescott finding his favorite target Cooper in just their sixth game together after Cooper was acquired that October from the Oakland Raiders.
The ball was deflected off the hand of Philly corner Rasul Douglas and Cooper hauled it in and that was the ballgame. Cooper had a big hand in the win with three touchdowns and 217 yards but it showed just how valuable Prescott was to the team. He finished with 455 yards and three touchdowns in a game that all but locked up his second NFC East title.
Dak’s dive against Seattle in 2018 Wild Card Game
After winning the division in 2018, the Cowboys would end up hosting the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card round. Dallas would find themselves trailing heading into the fourth quarter of the game. At halftime, Dallas led 10-6 following an 11-yard touchdown reception by Michael Gallup but they were held scoreless in the third quarter when the Seahawks would grab the lead.
Following a Mike Davis two-point conversion for Seattle, the Cowboys were behind 14-10. They opened the fourth quarter with an Ezekiel Elliott one-yard run to retake the lead. With the Cowboys up 17-14, and trying to fend off the Seahawks, it was up to Prescott to make a play to earn his first playoff victory.
The game came down to a 3rd and 14 play in the red zone. The clock was ticking down inside of three minutes when the Cowboys called a draw play for Prescott. It was a gutsy call considering they couldn’t settle for a field goal and expect to hold off Russell Wilson. Dak waited for Connor Williams to engage in his block and took off up the middle. Prescott found 16 yards for the first down before attempting to dive over Seattle safety Tedric Thompson where he fell just inches short of a touchdown. Dallas had literally put the game in Dak’s hands and he had delivered.
The play itself didn’t result in a score but Prescott would finish it off with a one-yard touchdown run on the very next play but the first down run showed Dak’s toughness and willingness to put his body on the line for the team. Dallas would end up winning 24-22 as time ran out on Seattle.
What are the moments during the Dak Prescott era that stick out in your mind? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @PatSportsGuy
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