How Dak Prescott, Offense Answered A "Challenge"


ARLINGTON, Texas – Dak Prescott wasn't really interested in discussing a certain "challenge" he accepted three days earlier.

He was more focused on how the Cowboys – the team, not just the quarterback or the offense – responded in Sunday's 20-13 victory over the New York Giants.

Did Prescott feel disrespected by safety Landon Collins' statement that the Giants had a "better shot of winning" if they stopped the run first and "put the ball in Dak's hands" at AT&T Stadium?

"I don't put much thought into it as you guys do," he said with a wry smile after the game.

Maybe not. But his teammates heard what Collins told the New York media early in the week.

Prescott's two-word response on Thursday – "challenge accepted" – sparked the entire roster.

"I was hyped," defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford said. "I was definitely hyped for him and I was hyped for our offense to go out there and do what they did. I loved it."

The Cowboys felt they didn't give themselves much of a chance offensively in an ugly 16-8 loss to Carolina a week ago. Their first four drives in that game were wrecked by penalties, sacks and minus plays.

Sunday night, Prescott and the offense were the aggressors early. On the third play from scrimmage – first-and-10 from the Dallas 36 – he went deep to Tavon Austin for a 64-yard touchdown.

For the second straight game, Prescott (16-of-25, 160 yards) didn't reach 200 passing yards. But he didn't throw an interception for the second straight game, either. And his career-high 45 rushing yards restored a unique dimension to the offense: the zone read with Ezekiel Elliott, who added 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground himself.

"I don't think Dak needed that motivation to go out there and play that way," Elliott said. "But I think Dak did go out there and have a hell of a game tonight. He took control of the offense.

"We did a lot better job executing. We didn't put ourselves behind the chains. We stayed ahead of the chains, and it showed. We got some momentum and we were able to play our football and wear them out."

The Cowboys hit a dry spell after jumping out to a quick 10-0 lead. They punted on three straight possessions to end the first half.

But they did put a little balance back in their offense Sunday night: 25 passes, 25 runs; 160 passing yards, 138 rushing yards. Prescott wasn't sacked after taking six sacks from Carolina in Week One.

In a way, Dallas' performance was exactly what Collins and the Giants wanted to prevent.

"It's the game of football. You've got to put it in somebody's hands," Prescott said. "When you have a great run game like we do and a great running back, as you saw what they did tonight and we've done the past two years running the ball, to me it's kind of obvious.

"That's not that big of a deal to me, but I know I wasn't the only one that heard that. When I said 'challenge accepted,' it wasn't just me accepting that challenge. It was this offense. It was this team.

"After that win, just hearing what some of the guys were saying, I knew they heard that message too and were happy we were able to come out and do what we did."