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Dak Thankful For An 'Opportunity to Respond'


FRISCO, Texas - If there's anybody that understands that Dak Prescott has not been playing his best football over the last two weeks - it's Dak Prescott. With four turnovers in the Cowboys' last two games of the regular season, and a career-high 15 interceptions despite playing just 12 games, the franchise quarterback gets the frustration more than anybody.

So inevitably when those questions began to start flying at Prescott again on Friday afternoon, he acknowledged that putting those performances behind him in order to refrain from not trying to do too much against the Buccaneers on Monday in their Wild Card round contest.

"I've been able to put it behind me," Prescott said of the Cowboys' 26-6 loss to the Commanders. "When something is uncharacteristic it's about getting back and doing the things that you know who you are. And that's the study and that's the preparation. That's making sure I'm doing everything I need to mentally to leave no doubt and respond the right way."

That's been the story of Prescott's career and tenure in Dallas as his seventh season as the Cowboys' quarterback continues to press on - responding. It's been the case this season alone with the broken thumb that kept him out five games. Or the interception rate that has skyrocketed beyond his career norms.

But now? That all washes away with the playoffs now on the Cowboys' doorstep. For Prescott, this will be his fourth go-around in the tournament, however with just only one playoff win to show for it against the Seattle Seahawks back in 2018.

That, along with last season's heartbreaking ending to the 49ers has fueled not just Prescott, but the entire team towards getting back on the playoff stage - to respond. As if he or the Cowboys needed any motivation for this week to begin with, the message across the board universally has been pretty clear from the team this week - last year's playoff failure has motivated them all year, and for this game.

"Damn right," Prescott said. "Obviously after a game like last week that helps remind you how precious these moments are, how you don't get these opportunities. You don't get a lot of opportunities to play this game in general, but especially being in the playoffs, have the team that we have, know that we've got to make sure it counts now."

But after a handful of playoff losses through his career, and some painful ones at that, it would be fair to say that beating the Buccaneers would mean something to Prescott. And whether or not it's fair in Prescott's case, quarterbacks are graded out on their ability to play in the postseason.

And Dak knows that.

"We're all judged off wins and wins in the playoffs," he said. "These matter and I know that. "So, it's not necessarily that it's pressure, but you've got to love playing in these moments. You've got to love being in games like this. And if you don't, this league, this sport, this isn't the place for you. And so, for me it's about embracing the moment."

Though when looking at Tampa and Tom Brady however, you can't tell the story of their season without mentioning all of the late game comebacks they've collected to win the NFC South and host a playoff game despite being 8-9.

The same holds true for the Cowboys and Prescott, only on the opposite end of the spectrum and their losses they've taken in the regular season despite holding large leads in the second half (i.e., the Packers and Jaguars' losses.) In case it needed to be said, closing out a game like this would be paramount.

"It's important," Prescott said. "Just to make sure we go and win this game, whether it be up and having to close it out, or whether it be in the last few minutes, whatever it is, we have an opportunity to go win this game. We've got to get it done in whatever way that we have to."

So, like a raven being sent between two houses across Westeros in an episode of Game of Thrones, Dak and the Cowboys will be looking to do what they have done all season - respond.

"I've got the opportunity to respond," Prescott said. And I told the guys that yesterday, that's all we can be thankful for; is to have that opportunity to respond."

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