ARLINGTON, Texas – With under six minutes left at AT&T Stadium, the Cowboys' season opener went from bad to worse.
Trying to muster some late-game offensive production in a frustrating 19-3 loss, Dak Prescott's right (throwing) hand collided with Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaq Barrett's hands during a pass attempt. The result: a significant thumb injury that will require surgery and sideline the Cowboys franchise quarterback for several games.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones didn't want to speculate too much on Prescott's injury without a complete medical diagnosis but said it's a fracture "behind the thumb."
"He'll be out several games but not out for the year," Jones said.
Wearing a brace on his right hand in his post-game press conference, Prescott said he planned to meet with the medical staff Monday with surgery on the injured thumb to follow.
"I was told it was much cleaner than it could have been," Prescott said. "It's very disappointing, but injuries happen. Can't necessarily control it. Just unfortunate. I'm obviously going to miss some time and not be there for my team and that's what hurts more than anything, especially after the start that we just put out there."
The offense couldn't get anything going before Prescott's injury. They didn't score after the opening drive that resulted in a 51-yard field goal by Brett Maher. They posted only 244 total yards and went 3-of-15 on third down. Prescott went 14-of-29 for 134 yards with an interception and was sacked twice. He never found a consistent rhythm with the Cowboys' depleted receiver corps, including No. 1 wideout CeeDee Lamb, who had two catches for 29 yards on 11 targets.
Backup quarterback Cooper Rush finished out Sunday's game and is expected to fill in while Prescott is out. In his first and only career start last year, Rush led the Cowboys to a victory at Minnesota while Prescott suffered a one-game absence with a calf injury.
"I've been out there before," Rush said. "You just have to draw on that and trust yourself."
It's a terrible spell of luck for Prescott, who spoke all training camp about having the healthiest offseason in years as he's further and further removed from the devastating ankle injury that cost him most of the 2020 season.
"Obviously just not what you want to hear. But it's not the worst thing that's happened to me," Prescott said. "It's just another bump in the road and I'll keep moving forward. I'll do everything that I can that I can control to get myself back, to get myself better, help this team and be the best that I can in this role.
And now the Cowboys must press forward without him for the next few weeks.
"It's daunting," Jones said. "It just reminds me that this game, like life, is usually pretty daunting. The odds can be generally looked at as stacked against you. But I didn't expect to be standing here with you tonight with this report, I'll tell you that."