EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dak Prescott didn't know how much he'd play in Sunday's regular-season finale, but wanted every snap.
He got every snap, and he made each one count.
Prescott threw a career-high four touchdown passes, including the game-winning 32-yard pass to Cole Beasley and ensuing two-point conversion to Michael Gallup, in a thrilling 36-35 road win over the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
The NFC East champion Cowboys (10-6) were locked into the No. 4 NFC playoff seed regardless of Sunday's outcome. The club opted to rest three Pro Bowl starters – running back Ezekiel Elliott, left tackle Tyron Smith and guard Zack Martin – who have dealt with various injuries at some point throughout the season.
But head coach Jason Garrett emphasized throughout the week that for the most part, healthy players would play, and the goal was to finish strong before the postseason.
Prescott and his teammates took the message to heart.
"Even some teammates asked me, 'How much are you playing?'" he said. "I told them that I simply wasn't told anything.
"I prepared myself to play the entire game. I practiced all week long to play the entire game. I took the two-minute drive this week, and it worked out."
Trailing 35-28 with just over two minutes left, the third-year quarterback drove the offense 70 yards in 9 plays and delivered the 32-yard touchdown pass to a diving Beasley in the back of the end zone. The play was initially ruled incomplete, but replay showed Beasley had his knee down in bounds.
On the two-point conversion, Prescott scrambled around before finding the rookie Gallup streaking across the end zone open. The Dallas defense stopped Eli Manning and the Giants (5-11) on downs to secure a 10th victory.
Prescott finished with a 120.2 passer rating: 27-of-44 for 387 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. The 44 pass attempts were the fourth-highest total of his career, the 387 passing yards the second-highest total.
"Pure warrior," Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. "He could've came out the game anytime and saved himself for next week, but it was important for him to go out there and lead us troops and for them to install more trust into him and to this wide receiver corps."
The Cowboys admittedly "hedged their bets a little bit," as Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said, with Prescott and other key starters playing extended snaps in a game with no playoff implications. But the goal offensively was to keep improving into the postseason.
"We wanted to keep building on a lot of the things we were building on in our offense, and you've got to have you quarterback out there to do that," offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. "He did a great job and he didn't even blink. That's who he is. He's ready to play any game. He doesn't treat any game any different than he did today.
"It was big for him to have a game like that. We put a little bit more emphasis on the passing game today. I just thought he did a great job."