ARLINGTON, Texas – With just over a minute to play in the game, Dak Prescott trotted onto the field, finding himself in a situation that he felt rather comfortable with.
Sure, he would've likely preferred to take a couple of kneel-downs in the "Victory" formation and grab a win in his first NFL start. But games in this league aren't usually that easy, especially when it's Cowboys vs. Giants in Week 1 of the season.
That being said, Prescott had the ideal scenario in front of him.
"That's what I wanted. I didn't want it any other way," Prescott said of the Cowboys trailing 20-19 with a chance to go win the game. "I'd rather it be in my hands than their hands with that time on the clock. I'm thinking go win the game."
But obviously, it didn't work out that way for Prescott, who got the Cowboys past midfield, but time simply ran out as the offense couldn't get set in time to spike the ball before the final gun.
Had Prescott been able to drive the Cowboys to a last-second field goal, which would've been Dan Bailey's fifth of the game, some of his early struggles might have gone overlooked. His stats weren't that impressive – 25 of 45 for 227 yards for a 69.4 quarterback rating. While there were no touchdown passes, there were no interceptions as well.
Now, Prescott did have a near TD toss to Dez Bryant, who was initially credited with a catch in the end zone before instant replay officials overruled the call, stating that Bryant didn't have control with the ball inbounds.
[embeddedad0]Aside from that, most of Prescott's throws were over the middle and underneath, as Jason Witten was targeted 14 times, catching nine passes for 66 yards. Cole Beasley had 12 targets, with eight receptions for 65 yards.
As for Dez, just one catch for eight yards and only targeted five times.
"That's a guy that they're going to game plan against," Prescott said. "Sure, they had a certain game plan out. We'll continue to attack Dez and go after him in those coverages when they give them to us. Like I said, we came up short overall. That's the gist of it."
There were moments when Prescott looked like a rookie making his first NFL start. But his teammates in the huddle didn't seem to think so.
"He was really poised out there," Beasley said. "He's a confident guy and always acts like he's been there before. That's what you want to see."
Witten echoed Beasley's comments.
"He was very poised. I thought the entire game he was very poised," Witten said. "We'll get better and rally behind him. I thought he did a really good job. He had good communication in the huddle, good execution. He kept plays alive for us. We didn't play as well as we needed to, but I think Dak did a good job in there."
Overall, Prescott avoided the questions on grading his performance, knowing the end result wasn't good enough.
"There are some things I want back," Prescott said. "Some plays I want to re-do, I guess you could say, but for the most part I felt like I prepared. The coaches did a good job. I think I did well for the most part. We just have to score touchdowns down there in the red zone. We were down there I think the first three drives of the game and we had to settle for field goals. That's 21 points that you'd rather have instead of 9. Whatever that math is."
It's enough "math" to get the Cowboys on the right side of the scoreboard, and would've given Dak a chance to celebrate his first start, instead of searching for answers.