ARLINGTON, Texas – Dak Prescott was never likely to call out his critics in a public setting – but his teammates were more than happy to.
Given the way the past week has gone, with the rookie quarterback facing non-stop scrutiny and speculation about his job status, it's understandable why someone would want to jab back. And following Prescott's phenomenal showing against Tampa Bay, that's exactly what happened.
"That was for those fake fans -- shut the hell up," said Dez Bryant following the game. "That's what that means. That means shut the hell up and let us work – let him work."
Considering how helpless he looked in last week's 10-7 loss to the Giants, you'd never guess that Prescott was a rookie quarterback facing a storm of criticism about his prospects as the Cowboy's starter.
That's essentially a theme for the entire season – Prescott playing far beyond his years. But after the worst performance of his young career, it was impressive to watch him respond with one of his best.
Facing one of the hottest defenses in the league, the rookie completed 32-of-36 passes – 89 percent – for 279 yards. He found eight different receivers on the night, and he helped set up a 185-yard night from Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas run game.
"I think that's my game. I think last week I just got away from that," Prescott said. "I got away from my usual, taking what they give me, getting the ball out quick, and being patient. Tonight was just getting back to what I've been doing all game long."
[embeddedad0]It was a return to normal for the rookie – which is a bit surprising, given the noise circulating around the Cowboys this week. Prescott was bad in the loss to the Giants, but it was an outlier in what has been an outstanding rookie season.
Against Tampa Bay, he posted a passer rating of 99, which was the fourth-worst rating of his season. Even with the awful outing against the Giants, his season average is a sterling 105.6.
"I thought he was pretty darn good," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
But if it felt good to quiet the criticism, Prescott wasn't about to acknowledge that fact. It's just another way he's demonstrated that he's operating far above a typical rookie.
"I just wanted to come back and perform after the game last week," he said. "That's the only thing in my mind – to respond to last week. 'He said, she said' doesn't affect me.'"
That's a great attitude to take, and it's probably the right one. Fortunately, Prescott isn't the only one in the Cowboys' locker room – and it was a locker room that seemed happy to quiet the criticism.
"We lost one game, and we was 11-2. Come one, man," Bryant said. "This guy put us in this position, and you just get to talking crazy. We have one bad game. It's crazy. This is why everybody gets blocked out. We've got to stick together, we've got to just focus on ourselves and keep pushing and not paying attention to the noise."