PHILADELPHIA – As he jogged to the bench with five touchdown passes under his belt, Dak Prescott figured his coaches and teammates were simply congratulating him on one nice night.
"I thought they were saying congrats for five touchdowns, to be honest," he said.
To be clear, five touchdown passes in one night is a rare accomplishment, as Saturday night was just the 11th time a Cowboys quarterback has hit the mark.
Forget tying a record, though, Prescott's eight-yard out route to Corey Clement also set a new mark, as his 37th touchdown pass of the season passed Tony Romo's 2007 mark of 36 for the most in franchise history.
"Hell of a year for a guy who was in a slump," joked Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy afterward.
It's a good joke – a great joke, even. Sitting here at the end of the regular season, it seems strange to think that Prescott ever had a rough patch. In the time since his two-interception hiccup a month ago against Washington, he's responded to throw 13 touchdowns to zero picks in the final four games of his season.
"I think he's special. He's a special man," McCarthy said. "What's exciting is we have a lot of growth in front of us. He's still a young QB that has a lot of excellent football in front of him."
Prescott himself joked that perhaps he could've hit the mark earlier without the struggles – a self-deprecating mark that fits his own attitude about the milestone.
"Obviously, knowing who's come before me and who's played the quarterback position here before me, I'm just the beneficiary of a lot of hard work, great play calling, offensive line protecting, bunch of different guys making plays," he said.
Saturday night at Lincoln Financial Field, a bunch of guys quite literally did make plays. Clement's touchdown catch was the first of his Cowboys career, while Cedrick Wilson stepped up in another career outing. Rookie running back JaQuan Hardy found pay dirt for the first time in his NFL career to cap things off.
Exciting as it might be to end the regular season in style, though, it did in fact end. As he answered questions about the game – his own accomplishments and those of his teammates – Prescott was adamant that it's irrelevant, as the postseason has arrived.
"The stats and all that, the way we finished was great. It's what we wanted to do, build momentum, get in a rhythm – but none of that matters anymore," he said. "You get into this tournament, and it's one game at a time. It's must-win. So that's the focus."
That might be the focus, but it'll have to wait at least a little bit. With the playoff pecking order hinging on several other games around the NFC, the Cowboys won't know next week's opponent until Sunday night. That gives them time to celebrate and reflect on their accomplishments – at least until they wake up Sunday morning. That's about as long as Prescott is giving them before the focus turns forward.
"You've got to turn the page," he said. "You can't hang your hat on the regular season or 12 wins or winning the division, because none of it matters."