Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott Shines in Playoff Spotlight

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Dak Prescott
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 05: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys dives but falls short of the end zone against the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth quarter during the Wild Card Round at AT&T Stadium on January 05, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

All eyes were on Dak Prescott Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Dallas Cowboys, 2018 NFC East champs, were searching to win their first postseason game since 2014. Prescott, who was 0-1 in the playoffs going into Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks, was looking to prove that he belonged as one of the game’s premier quarterbacks. In a league where young quarterbacks are constantly scrutinized, winning in the playoffs helps to stand out from the pack.

“When you say success of quarterback or a quarterback’s success depending on what they do in the playoffs, I think that’s where the checks get written and they get their money, to be honest,” Prescott said.

In front of the raucous Dallas Cowboys fans, Prescott delivered. The franchise quarterback threw for 226 yards and one touchdown. His marquee plays came at the end of the game, where he blazed through Seahawks defenders on a 3rd-and-14 QB draw. The very next play, he rushed into the end zone, putting a seal on the Cowboys 24-22 win over the Seahawks. One reality was clear: Dak gained many fans Saturday night and showcased why he is on the path to being one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Dak Prescott Always Ready to Embrace Big Stage

When Dak Prescott arrived at Mississippi State University, nobody could have ever predicted the quarterback that he would turn into. As a senior at Haughton High School in Louisiana, Prescott completed 159-of-258 passes for 2,860 yards and 39 touchdowns. While he redshirted as a true freshman, young Dak always knew when given the chance to start as quarterback, he would deliver.

Prescott put Mississippi State on the map as an SEC program. Records were broken. Astonishing accomplishments were achieved. The big stage became a state of normalcy for Dak. He holds the Mississippi State record for single-game, single-season and career completions, yards, and passing touchdowns. Among SEC quarterbacks, Prescott ranks 4th all-time in career touchdowns with 114. Best of all, he joins a select group of quarterbacks who threw for over 4,000 yards and rushed for over 2,000 yards in college. Prescott’s record-setting performances in both the Orange and Belk Bowls prove that from a young age, he had the winning instincts.

The Dallas Cowboys saw this and selected Dak in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. There is no bigger stage than playing in “Jerry World,” where performance is always compared to the success of previous Cowboys quarterbacks like Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman.

Dak was ready to embrace this opportunity.

Dak Prescott Faces Skepticism & Controversy

When Tony Romo left the Dallas Cowboys lineup due to injury back in 2016, it was Dak Prescott’s chance to take the helm at quarterback. His rookie year was historical, throwing for 3667 yards and 23 touchdowns, breaking many records in the process.

In his first postseason game, Prescott performed valiantly in defeat (24/38, 302 yards, three touchdowns), losing to the Green Bay Packers 34-31 on a Mason Crosby game-winning field goal. But since that playoff appearance, the Cowboys became mired in controversy. Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott got suspended for six games the following season due to domestic violence. Owner Jerry Jones was getting entangled in the national anthem controversy. Dak struggled in his sophomore season. The Cowboys would go from NFC East champs in 2016 to not making the playoffs in 2017.

When the Cowboys started the 2018 season 3-5, panic reached an all-time high. There were calls from former players like Troy Aikman to break up the team and start over. Fans wanted Jerry Jones to fire head coach Jason Garrett. Facing this adversity and skepticism, the Cowboys responded by winning seven of their last eight games to capture the NFC East. The defense dramatically improved, evidenced by its ability to shut down the high-powered New Orleans Saints offense during the regular season.

But the one constant that kept the Cowboys in every game was Dak. Whenever the young quarterback is playing at a high level, the whole team is inspired to raise its performance.

“Any time you see you quarterback throwing his body around and doing whatever he can to help us win, it’s inspiring,” says Cowboys All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin. “I wouldn’t want anyone else as our quarterback.”

Dak Prescott Secures First Postseason Victory

Saturday’s Wild Card Game against the Seattle Seahawks was more than just a playoff game. It was an opportunity to solidify a legacy. The Seahawks are a battle tested franchise, who have been successful in the postseason. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl champion, leading all NFL quarterbacks in most game-winning drives in their first three NFL seasons.

Dak Prescott would tie Russell Wilson with 15 game-winning drives in their first three NFL seasons. Through the effective running of Ezekiel Elliott (26 carries, 137 yards, one touchdown against Seattle), it would set up Prescott to make some timely passes to his favorite target Amari Cooper (7 receptions, 106 yards), who the Cowboys acquired in week 7. It also helps when the Cowboys defense, which ranked near the bottom of the NFL the last four games in yards allowed and points, came up with a terrific performance, limiting the Seahawks No. 1 ranked rushing offense to just 73 yards. When Prescott got the game-winning touchdown and the clock struck zero, he proved his doubters wrong and cemented a legacy of being a clutch quarterback.

“Dak is a rare guy,” Jason Garrett said after the game. “His leadership, his toughness, just his way and his spirts. It’s like none other.

“Third and 14, you don’t anticipate making that, but somehow, someway he finds a way to get it done.”

12 years ago, the Seahawks beat the Cowboys in the postseason after Tony Romo botched the field goal snap. 12 years later, revenge tastes so sweet with Dak as the quarterback to take Dallas back on the path to championship glory.

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