Dak Prescott needed to have the game of his life if the Cowboys were to hand Tom Brady his first-ever loss against the franchise, and that's exactly what happened in the wild card battle
TAMPA, FLA — Yet again, the Dallas Cowboys have proven they know how to be resilient after being punched in the mouth but, more importantly, when it matters most. Their embarrassing showing against the Washington Commanders in Week 18 was answered by a 31-14 beatdown of Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that wasn't nearly as close as the final score implies.
And it was in large part because Dak Prescott played like a man possessed in trying to exorcise the demon of Brady and his doubters alike.
Prescott finished the game as the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for 300 or more yards and at least four touchdowns in a postseason game — a gargantuan feat when you consider the names involved: Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Tony Romo and Troy Aikman — en route to punching the Cowboys ticket to the NFC Divisional Round against the San Francisco 49ers.
"[In Washington], I got away from how I play this game — I got greedy," Prescott admitted following the victory over the Brady bunch. "I tried to force some throws, take the big ones, and that's not who I've been in my career. I [usually] take what they give me, waiting on the big shot, and [Washington] was uncharacteristic. So it was a way for me to just dial back in, but I wiped that clean because I knew what this game meant."
Prescott tossed in 24 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown for good measure, in what was one of the best/most complete games he's ever put on film, throwing zero interceptions as well, and converting on both of the Cowboys fourth-down conversions (in a big way, too).
Did he know he'd have this type of an outing after what happened in Washington?
"In a sense, yea," said the two-time Pro Bowler after earning the second playoff win of his NFL career. "I knew by watching tape that this team was gonna be able to create matchups and what we'd be able to do."
Many of Prescott's throws were still high-risk, high-reward, but they were timely, thrown with exceptional anticipation and he was often rewarded by his receivers with sure-handed catches that either moved the chains or resulted in one of his four passing touchdowns.
In short, the Cowboys offense was firing on all cylinders after a slow start in the first two offensive series — a combination of stellar play from Prescott, his offensive weapons and the play-calling of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Up next comes a stout defensive test in the 49ers, and the Cowboys can only truly enjoy what happened in Tampa until their flight lands in Dallas on early Tuesday morning; having to prepare on a short week for the divisional round.
"You gotta start fast," said Prescott. "Knowing the defense they have, the offense they have, they're on fire. The longest win streak in the league. It's important for us to start fast and get on top of them. I know the pass rush they have but I'm confident in the group that we have, and what we're capable of doing."
And, with that, they'll have a chance to shock the world again in six days.