ARLINGTON, Texas – Dak Prescott left AT&T Stadium with a wrap on his right (throwing) hand, the result of a Redskins helmet slamming into it on an option play in the second quarter of the Cowboys' 38-14 win over Washington.
His hand didn't break – and neither did his confidence during the team's ugly three-game losing streak.
Words of encouragement from two legendary former Cowboys quarterbacks – Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman – helped.
"It meant everything," Prescott said. "Roger sent me a text and told me about him getting booed. If that doesn't show you this business right there, it is what it is. (Troy's message was) keep going. Keep putting your head forward."
Only 28 games into his NFL career, the 24-year-old Prescott just stomached his worst stretch as a starter. Thursday, he and the Cowboys (6-6) responded with a decisive victory that keeps them in the playoff race.
Dallas entered the game with three consecutive losses by 20 or more points. They failed to score in double digits in all three games. Prescott committed eight turnovers in those three games (five interceptions, three lost fumbles) with one touchdown run and no touchdown passes.
The first quarter looked like those previous three losses on repeat. Despite two defensive takeaways, the offense had four straight three-and-outs and gained 26 yards on 15 plays.
Prescott settled in at the start of the second quarter and directed an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten.
He went to the locker room for an X-ray (results were negative) during the Cowboys' final defensive drive of the half. He acknowledged it was difficult gripping the football at first, but the athletic training staff helped him get the swelling down.
"I was a little nervous at first with the grip," Prescott said. "I came out, and continued to keep the ball in my hand and keep the blood flowing."
The offense didn't have to rely solely on Prescott's right arm in the second half. Starting for a suspended Ezekiel Elliott, running back Alfred Morris rushed for a season-high 127 yards, including 89 after halftime.
Morris and Rod Smith sealed the game with back-to-back touchdowns after Prescott (11-of-22, 102 yards, no turnovers) threw his second touchdown of the night, a jump ball to Dez Bryant in the end zone.
For the first time since their Oct. 29 road win at Washington, the Cowboys had more runs than passes in a game.
They also needed a bounce-back performance from their young quarterback. He delivered.
"He's just a mentally and physically tough guy, mature way beyond his years," Witten said. "He's unwavering in his approach. He has an interception in a couple of games turning the ball over and he just comes back. I thought he played really well tonight."