ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott took to the field with 1:55 remaining Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams, many may have believed he would lead a game-winning drive.
It didn’t matter that the Cowboys didn’t have a timeout. It didn’t matter that they needed to travel 75 yards for the touchdown. It didn’t matter that the Rams defense had bottled up the Cowboys’ offense for most of the second half.
Prescott would figure out a way.
That’s what he did last year as a rookie when he delivered late against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in overtime against the Philadelphia Eagles, on the road against the Minnesota Vikings. It’s what he did last week against the Arizona Cardinals.
On first down, Prescott found Jason Witten for a 9-yard completion. Soon he would have the Cowboys at the Los Angeles 40 after a 12-yard scramble. Without the timeout, he spiked the ball with 46 seconds to play.
The Cowboys would not get another first down.
Prescott second-down pass to Ezekiel Elliott was off because of pressure. His third-down throw to the sideline to Dez Bryant was high. On fourth down, he dumped off a pass to Elliott, hoping the running back could break a tackle or two to keep the drive going.
Elliott was stopped a yard short and the Cowboys lost 35-30.
It was the first non-division regular-season loss of Prescott’s young career. There would be no comeback, just the Cowboys’ second loss of the season. They did not lose their second game a year ago until Week 14.
“We’re not going to lose confidence,” Prescott said. “This offense, this team is not going to do that, 2-2 and a lot of football left.”
When Prescott watches the tape, he will see too many missed throws. The Rams caused many of them with pressure from their front four. He was sacked twice and hit six more times. He had at least two passes deflected at the line of scrimmage. He was hit once that led to an interception, his third of the season, one less than last year’s total.
He won’t look at his arm. He will look at his feet.
In the first half, he completed 11-of-15 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. In the second half, he completed 9-of-21 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s just knowing where I’m going with the ball, having a good idea where I’m going with the ball so that my feet can be in tune with my mind,” Prescott said. “And just being balanced and making those throws.”
In the first half, Prescott beat the Rams blitz for 115 yards and a score on 8-of-9 passing, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the second half, the Rams did not blitz as much, which kept Prescott in the pocket.
The Cowboys went from scoring on all four first-half possessions for a 24-16 lead to scoring on just one of six second-half possessions. An eight-point halftime lead turned into an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit. Because the offense struggled, the defense was on the field too much and wore out.
In the first half, the Cowboys had 133 yards rushing, thanks to a 70-yard run by Alfred Morris, but gained 56 more yards on the ground in the second half. Dez Bryant had three first-half catches for 68 yards, more than he had in the first three games of the year, but caught two passes for 30 yards in the second half.
The Cowboys converted 5-of-8 third-down chances in the first half but 2-of-6 in the second half.
“We just weren’t consistent enough throughout the game,” Garrett said.
The last time Prescott had footwork issues came in Week 8 of his rookie year against the Philadelphia Eagles when he completed just 48.7 percent of his passes, but on the first drive of overtime it came together. He completed all five of his passes and hit Witten for the winning touchdown.
On Sunday when everybody thought he would put it all together, he completed 2-of-8 passes for 18 yards, including one drop and one spike.
“I just have to be better,” Prescott said. “No reason. No excuse.”