FRISCO, Texas – As we get ready to enter the first round of the playoffs, the NFL postseason is obviously at the forefront of the entire sports world.
During a recent NFL studio show on ESPN, one of the analysts ranked the top-5 quarterbacks who have the most pressure entering the playoffs. Dak Prescott was placed No. 2 on that list, behind the Rams' Matthew Stafford, who has yet to win a postseason game.
One person's opinion doesn't seem to matter much in the big picture of things. But one also has to wonder if being on that list is such a bad thing.
Dak Prescott doesn't seem to think so.
"I don't know why people label the word pressure as such a bad thing," Prescott said in a conference call with the media on Thursday. "I think it creates high expectations and high standards, and it usually creates high results. For me, it's just about who I am and staying true to that. Preparing the same way. Trusting the people around me, trusting the play-callers and my preparation and just going out there and playing the game that I love without any hesitation."
It has been three full years since Prescott played in a playoff game, as the Cowboys went 1-1 to follow the 2018 season. After recording his first-ever postseason victory at home against Seattle, Prescott and the Cowboys came up short the next week in Los Angeles, losing to the Rams.
Prescott's only other playoff game occurred in his rookie season against the Packers in 2016. The Cowboys fell behind 21-3 to Mike McCarthy's Green Bay squad, only to lose on a last-second field goal in the NFC Divisional Round.
With just three playoff games under his belt, it seems to be enough for Prescott to understand the difference from the regular season.
"One thing you can't replicate is playoff football, especially at AT&T Stadium, having played two playoff games here," Prescott said. "You can feel the atmosphere in warm-ups, and really just from the time you show up at the game. You can feel it. It's something special. It'll be exciting to see Cowboys Nation show out and be a big part of this game."
While the atmosphere is different once he gets to the game, Prescott said his mid-week routine is altered a bit. After he tried to say the prep-work is the same, he admitted there could be some extra film sessions this week to get ready for the 49ers, especially since they didn't meet in the regular season.
"I stay the same for the most part. But I'd be lying if you don't look at a little more film, a little more games than the normal breakdown of four to five games," Prescott said. "Sometimes in a playoff game you want to see what they've done really well against other opponents that may not be in that breakdown. That's just trying to get a feel of the D-coordinator and how he calls the game. Just trying to get a feel how they're coming into this game against us."
And perhaps the extra preparation by Prescott is the result of living in the moment. For a guy who made the playoffs in his first season, this is only his second trip back in his career. And considering everything that's occurred in between, including a season-ending injury in 2020 and the ongoing contract negotiations that led to his megadeal this past offseason, Prescott hasn't forgotten the journey.
"It allows you not to take any moment for granted," Prescott said. "It feels like a long time with everything that has happened in between there – on the field, off the field, not making the playoffs, personal things, being taken away from the game to being able to get back here with such a great team.
"Just knowing the opportunity we have in front of us. Not only the talent, but the brotherhood, the relationships, just the special bond we've got. That's going to be the factor that we take into this game that can carry us far."