FRISCO, Texas – Dak Prescott stood at the post-game podium Sunday night in Denver and took full responsibility for the Cowboys' offensive struggles in a 42-17 blowout loss to the Broncos.
"When you play the way I played tonight, you're not going to win many games in this league," he said.
His head coach had a much different opinion about the second-year quarterback's performance.
"If you get a chance, go back and watch the tape of No. 4," Jason Garrett said Monday. "No. 4 is a special player."
Prescott obviously wasn't perfect. He threw two interceptions in a game for only the second time in his 19-game NFL career, counting playoffs. His 68.6 passer rating was his third-lowest to date. The Cowboys' offense, collectively, converted only 3 of 14 third downs and went 1 of 3 in the red zone.
The source of Garrett's praise was Prescott's competitiveness despite the circumstances. The Broncos sacked him twice, hurried him seven times, and he indeed hurt his ankle late in the first quarter, Garrett said, landing awkwardly while getting tackled from behind.
"It was not an easy game for him," Garrett said. "Got knocked around a little bit, got banged up early. Talk about a guy who battles; talk about a guy who fights; talk about a guy who leads the team under adversity, under duress. It was special."
Garrett, a backup to Troy Aikman in the 1990s, understands the down-to-down challenges of playing quarterback in the NFL. He watched Aikman, the starter on three Cowboys championship teams, push through on-field adversity. More than once he has referenced Tony Romo overcoming five interceptions on national television to will Dallas to a 25-24 victory at Buffalo in 2007.
For Garrett, a quarterback's true test comes when he gets hit over and over, when he turns the ball over, when things generally aren't going his way.
Sunday, Garrett watched Prescott continue to climb the pocket and make contested throws. With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, he watched Prescott scramble for an 11-yard gain on third-and-7 to give the offense a realistic chance on fourth down inside the Broncos' 10.
Prescott had his ankle taped after hurting it early in the game. He didn't miss a snap, and Garrett said he seemed to be doing well Sunday night after the game and Monday morning.
The Cowboys need his skills, and his leadership, moving forward.
"You've heard me say this before. My old man says, 'You can hit him in the face with a shovel and he keeps coming back.' That's what Dak Prescott again demonstrated yesterday," Garrett said. "I have no real concern about him responding the right way."