ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott finally looked like a rookie. Then he didn’t.
He finally seemed to succumb to the pressure. Then he didn’t.
He did not show the same poise and composure. Then he did.
He didn’t have the same accuracy. Then he couldn’t miss.
Sunday night's 29-23 overtime win over the Philadelphia Eagles was Prescott’s worst game as the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback. It was also his best moment as the Dallas Cowboys' starting quarterback.
He completed 19 of 39 passes, his worst completion percentage (48.7) of the season. He threw for 287 yards, the second most of his career. He threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted once.
The Cowboys won with Prescott not at his best except when they needed him most.
“It was 0-0 when we got the ball,” Prescott said. “We have been great in the first few games of getting the ball first and scoring. That’s kind of how I took it and thought of it. We got the ball and needed a touchdown.”
Prescott grew up a Cowboys fan, so if anybody knows what a Tony Romo play looks like, it’s him.
On second-and-goal from the Eagles' 5-yard line, Prescott did not see anything he liked after taking the shotgun snap. He felt pressure, even though no one was near him, and ducked into the offensive line.
“I kind of moved around and rolled to my right and realized nothing had gone well all night going that way,” Prescott said.
He retreated and spun back to his left, a patented Romo move, and got his eyes downfield.
“When Romo seems to do a lot of spinning,” Prescott said, “Witten seems to be the one who always gets open.”
The veteran tight end found an open spot in the end zone, and Prescott was able to float the pass to him for the game winner, triggering a celebration not seen often.
“This team is as close as any team can get,” Prescott said. “I don’t know if you can find another team that can have the fun the way that we have fun and still handle our business each and every day, especially on Sundays. Everybody wants to see everyone succeed, and that was the moment right there of everyone coming together.”
Prescott was flustered for most of the game. His interception in the end zone late in the second quarter with the score tied 10-10 took points away from the Cowboys and led to an end-of-half field goal that put the Eagles up 13-10. In the third quarter, he badly underthrew an open Dez Bryant on a potential touchdown and needed Terrance Williams to commit pass interference to avoid a second red zone interception.
Prescott was just off. And then he wasn’t.
He even lobbied slightly for Jason Garrett to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Eagles' 28 in overtime.
“I said, ‘I’ve got those big guys in front of me, we can get that yard,’” said Prescott, who picked up the first down on a quarterback sneak.
That type of confidence has endeared him to teammates. It is why they stuck with him as he struggled Sunday.
“That’s what he’s demonstrated since day one,” Garrett said. “Just to be able to handle any situation with poise and composure. He’s come back before this year for us. He plays with the same mentality, the same demeanor, the same temperament regardless of what’s happened before. The best players I’ve been around are able to do that. He was outstanding at the end of this ballgame.”
But when the Cowboys take the emotion out of the win, as Garrett likes to say, they will have to decide if the time will be right to go to Romo when the veteran is healthy. Romo is closer to practicing fully, but he will not play next week against the Cleveland Browns.
No matter what happens, Prescott will always have the Eagles win -- when his worst game brought his best moment.
“I’m not going to stop,” Prescott said. “I don’t care how bad I play early on. I don’t care what I do, I’m not going to give up. I have great teammates around me who give me confidence no matter what I have done. That’s what we share on the sideline. I’ve got their back and they’ve got mine.”