ARLINGTON, Texas – The jokes started around halftime, and they had become a full-blown narrative by the final whistle.
With 405 passing yards, four touchdowns and a perfect passer rating, Dak Prescott just raised his asking price.
It might be a simplistic way to view a multi-million dollar contract negotiation, but that isn't going to stop anyone from talking about it. And with reports indicating that the Cowboys and Prescott are finally nearing a long-term deal, it's certainly worth asking about.
"You shouldn't and wouldn't have me say that," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "But I sure know one thing: when it's on the line, he can play for it."
That rings awfully true in the wake of this season opening beatdown. If Prescott is stressing his contract status, he certainly didn't show it. The yards and the touchdowns obviously jump off the stat sheet, but the poise and calm with which he spread the ball to seven different receivers registered, as well.
"Fun -- those guys are great," Prescott said. "You get the ball in their hands quick, you see the results of it – a bunch of long plays. Runs after catch, broken tackles. We're talented as long as we stay focused and keep getting better."
Focus has been the name of Prescott's game since he arrived at training camp without a contract. The questions have persisted for most of the last six weeks, and Jones' comments after the game aren't going to make the noise die down.
Never one to worry about noise, Prescott downplayed speculation about a possible "imminent" deal and deferred the matter to his representatives.
"I'm turning the page and I'm worried about the Washington Redskins," he said. "I have people that handle that, and my focus is on this team, on the football game. I think as long as I can continue to do that, this team will do things like we did tonight. That's been out of my focus for the past week and I told you guys that."
Circling back to the joke, if the Cowboys keep getting results like they did on Sunday afternoon, then Prescott won't need to worry about his contract. His performance saw him become the first quarterback in Cowboys franchise history to post a perfect passer rating while throwing a minimum of 20 passes.
"I've been seeing it all offseason, throughout training camp, and I expect nothing less," said Randall Cobb. "The way he played tonight is what we expect to see, week in and week out."
If that's true, it'd signal a significant step forward for the Cowboys and their offense. Prescott has been fantastic to this point in his career, but gaudy passing stats haven't been a big part of his resume. Sunday was just the sixth 300-yard passing performance of his career, and just his second time hitting the 400-yard mark.
Add in the four touchdowns, which is just the second time he's hit that milestone, and it could be a big boost for an offense that already boasts one of the league's best running games.
Jokes about his contract might all be in good fun, but perhaps the Cowboys would be wise to seek a deal soon. The best jokes are often rooted in truth.