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.*
ARLINGTON, Texas – It almost happened. It was so close to coming to an end here Sunday night.
The biggest story in the NFL and one of the biggest in all of sports was about to become a non-issue.
And just like that, it not only stayed relevant, it's probably become even tougher to figure out.
At one point in the third quarter, I thought this quarterback dilemma was going to just work itself out. As great as Dak Prescott had played this season, he was in the middle of his worst game to date. He was missing throw after throw. He was forcing the ball to Dez Bryant. He wasn't seeing the field like he'd been the previous weeks.
All in all, Dak just looked out of sync. Win or lose, it looked like this was just the type of game to make this difficult decision a rather easy one.
And then the fourth quarter and overtime happened.
After three quarters of playing like a rookie, Dak found a way to turn it on when his team needed him the most.
No, he wasn't perfect at all – even in the clutch. But that's not what this game is about.
It's not about being perfect. It's about good enough at the perfect time and place. And that's exactly what Prescott did when the game was on the line.
[embeddedad0]The game I kept replaying in my head was the 2015 season opener against the Giants. Tony Romo wasn't great at all for about three and a half quarters. His team was down two scores in the fourth quarter but something finally clicked for the offense to get back in the game.
And then, when the game was truly on the line and the Cowboys had their backs firmly pressed up against the wall, Romo stepped up with a masterpiece final drive.
This scenario was a bit different. The Cowboys needed that drive to tie the game. But needing 90 yards, Prescott picked apart the Philly defense, finally getting Cole Beasley involved and finding Brice Butler for a big play, too. After some big runs by Ezekiel Elliott and Dak, the quarterback welcomed back his star receiver, lofting the ball up to him in the left corner for a game-tying play.
Game on the line, Prescott went 90 yards for a touchdown to erase a 10-point lead and tie the game.
And when he got the ball back a few plays later, needing about 20-25 yards to set up a field goal, Dak reverted back to rookie status again. Three straight incomplete passes, although you have to put some blame on the coaching staff for not running ball with Zeke, who certainly had the hot hand.
But thanks to the defense, the Cowboys got the game into overtime.
From there, it was a fresh start for Dak, who said afterward that he treated it like a second chance.
After four quarters of roller-coaster football, all Dak Prescott needed to do was win the game.
Mission accomplished. And let's not forget how they won the game in overtime. Prescott made plays with his arm and legs, and his strength – pushing forward for the much-needed two yards on fourth-and-1.
That takes us to the game-winning touchdown. In some parts of the country, it was already Monday, meaning it was Halloween.
So who did Dak Prescott decide to be for the final play of the game? Let's see, he rolled right in the pocket when he felt the blitz, but then spun around to his left and started improvising .Then all of a sudden, he found his trusty tight end Jason Witten, who was all alone in the end zone for the game-winner.
An hour earlier, it seemed to me as if this quarterback debate was all but dead. But then, Dak revitalized it once again.
And he used a play from Romo's book for good measure.