Coming off a disheartening loss and trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, Prescott saw two Arizona defenders between him and the goal line. At about the 3-yard line, he dove in the air and was flipped high, only to land in the end zone for a touchdown that gave the Cowboys life in an eventual 28-17 win.
But what if he did not landed so smoothly? What if his dive to the end zone was a little lower, like the dive Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had on Sunday when he was crunched by two Los Angeles Rams defenders and suffered a torn ACL in his left knee?
The margins are narrow in the NFL. What happened to Wentz could have happened to Prescott.
“I’m not going to put that in my mind,” Prescott said. “I don't think anybody is. That's part of the game. That just comes with it. Us running quarterbacks, we know that we're susceptible to that when we're running. For me, it's just about going to get what I can. If I need to get that touchdown, or in his case right there, it was needed. He went and got it. That's just him being a competitor. I'll treat the game the same way as I've been playing.”
Two weeks ago against the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys called an option to the left with Prescott pitching to Rod Smith. The quarterback took a hellacious hit and needed X-rays on his right hand after it swelled up. He did not miss a snap and it has not been an issue, but it spoke to the thin margins.
Coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys wouldn’t take the QB option out of their game plan but that he and the coaches have talked about Prescott using discretion.
"Dak is someone who is so effective running the ball on plays that we have for him, but also when things break down," Garrett said. "I think really from day one he’s had a pretty good feel and instinct for getting what he can and then sliding down. We can both remember a couple, three plays here and there, where maybe he didn’t do that. He took on a big guy. But you talk to him about those experiences, and you talk about risk and reward and you keep moving forward. It’s a physical game and these things happen. But again, you want to make the right decision at that position."
Prescott has carried 45 times for 288 yards on the season. Some of those have been by design. Others have been because of pressure. He has 11 rushing touchdowns over his first two seasons.
It is not as if he is as big as Cam Newton (6-foot-5, 245 pounds), but Prescott (6-2, 238 pounds) has taken some hits that might have warranted a penalty. He has been hit when sliding to the ground. Defenders have grabbed his face mask without a penalty.
But his size has helped him, too. In last week’s win, Prescott shrugged off New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon on what would have been a sack, and he found Alfred Morris for a short completion that turned into a first down.
"You're more susceptible to a hit, and these guys hit hard. It's different than college," Prescott said. "I'm taking all those things into account, but I'm going to play smart. I'm going to keep my competitive edge while doing that."