Eatman: Anticipating Dak To Finally Struggle, He Delivers Best Effort – Again

Nick Eatman is the author of his third book, the recently published *Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Texas, a chronicle of three football teams on three levels in Texas, from high school to college to the Cowboys.  *

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Every week, the goal is to try to spread things around with these postgame columns. What was mentioned from last week's game might be relevant again, but the idea is to try to come up with a new way, a new spin to paint this picture.

But after four weeks, I just can't do it. It's the same thing each week, only better.

For the fourth straight game, Dak Prescott was better than he was before. And this time, it's one of the major reasons the Cowboys were able to pull this game out and beat the 49ers for a third straight victory.

In other wins, Dak has been a very good game manager who has picked his spots and made plays when called upon.

You can argue that he managed this game once again Sunday at Levi's Stadium. But things are vastly different when you find yourself down 14-0 in the second quarter.

All of a sudden, your team doesn't need a manager anymore, but a playmaker. However, the problem wasn't just the two-touchdown deficit, but the fact that many of this team's best players were wearing street clothes.

Earlier in the morning, when I first heard of the seven players who would be inactive, my first thought was to count Pro Bowls. I came up with a combined nine trips to Hawaii for the players sitting out.

But despite no Romo, no Dez, no Tyron Smith, no La'el Collins and no Orlando Scandrick, Dak made sure there would be no problem … eventually.

Yeah, it took a while to calm things down and Prescott certainly didn't do things by himself. Ezekiel Elliott had another monster game and is starting to look every bit like the player the Cowboys drafted No. 4 overall with hopes of boosting this running game. So far, after another 138 yards, Zeke is the NFL's leading rusher after four games.

And this Cowboys defense really buckled down when its back was against the wall. Early in the game, they had simply no answer for San Francisco's spread-out offense. They were making Blaine Gabbert look like Cam Newton. Not only that, but this defense made the 49ers look like they actually had some good receivers.

All of a sudden, things changed and after giving up 14 points early in the game, all the Cowboys would surrender was another field goal. In the end, with the 49ers driving for the game-tying score, it would be the defense stiffening with a big stop to ice the game.

[embeddedad0]Again, all of those aspects helped key this victory. But you absolutely can't overlook the quarterback, especially this one.

I was told of a stat that Prescott is the first player in NFL history to pass for more than 1,000 yards without an interception thrown in his first four career games. Sure, he tried to throw one to San Fran's Eric Reid on the first drive, but the safety couldn't haul it in.

That's kind of the way Prescott's first four games have gone. Even when he finds some trouble, he gets out of it. When there's about to be a sack for a big loss, he finds a way to underhand a pass to Jason Witten in the area.

Dak is making plays that a five-year veteran usually does. Try to rattle this guy and it just doesn't happen.

Let's not forget the 49ers showed him a ton of new looks that he hadn't really seen before. It's not the first 3-4 scheme he's played against this year, but a much more exotic front with blitzes coming from all areas. Not only that, but he had two backups on the line to protect him and a rookie running back who is also seeing these defensive looks for the first time.

It's not always pretty, but it's effective. And in this league, that can be rather pretty.

I remember when Tony Romo first started playing on a regular basis. One of the things he would also stress during his media interviews was the importance of "getting better." It sounds rather boring and cliché, but obviously it's the goal for all players in all sports. I guess it's the case for all professions as well.

You want to go out and improve on what you did before. We always want to show progress at every moment, in every field.

And that's the No. 1 thing I like the most about Dak Prescott. He's absolutely getting better every time he steps on the field.

The first game, he was a poised rookie making his first start, who didn't turn the ball over and nearly got his team in position to win, but fell short.

The second game, he went on the road and found a way to rally his team to a comeback win against a division rival for his first career victory.

The next week, Prescott gets his first touchdown pass, records his first home win and still hasn't thrown an interception.

And then this week, he goes to San Francisco and finds his first double-digit deficit. Yet, he manages to rally his team back, showing that same poise from the first three games. He throws two touchdown this week and even with the game on the line and the Cowboys trying to run out the clock, he executes a quick screen pass to Cole Beasley to seal the victory.

Each week, it's something new. But it's always something better.

Eventually, I'm going to pick another player to write about in these postgame columns. But that will mean someone has to be the main storyline.

And so far, through four games, no one on this team has come even close.

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