Dak Prescott won't blame calf strain, absence after Denver Broncos thump Dallas Cowboys

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dak Prescott's return to the Dallas Cowboys did not go as planned.

The Cowboys were "whupped," as the quarterback called it, in a 30-16 loss to the Denver Broncos that did not feel as close as the final score indicated.

"We got beat. We got thumped in every aspect of the game, especially on offense," Prescott said.

Playing for the first time since suffering a right calf strain on Oct. 17 against the New England Patriots, Prescott completed 19 of 39 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns -- both in the fourth quarter to Malik Turner when the outcome was already decided -- and an interception. He was sacked two times.

After the game, Prescott said his calf was not an issue.

"I mean, I did a lot of moving, did a lot of scrambling there getting outside of the pocket, no issues," Prescott said. "I didn't feel it. I'm fine."

Prescott was playing for the first time in 21 days. The Cowboys had their bye week after beating the Patriots, and the Cowboys held Prescott out of last week's win at the Minnesota Vikings, with backup Cooper Rush throwing for 325 yards and two touchdowns.

Coach Mike McCarthy said Prescott had a "tough, uphill day."

"I think it's like anything, the speed of the game is something you can't replace," McCarthy said.

Prescott took his normal turns in practice leading into the Broncos game after spending the week before the Vikings game focusing mostly on his rehab. He had a longer absence coming into the season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of training camp, where he missed a significant amount of practice time and all four preseason games with a right latissimus strain.

"I mean obviously I wasn't as clean as I normally am or as I have been. It's tough to say and blame that," Prescott said. "I spent a lot of time off and came back in the first game [Tampa Bay] different, so I'm not going to sit there and blame two weeks when I had a great week of practice under my belt coming into this one.

"I just missed some throws and we weren't our normal selves in the passing game when we needed to be. We didn't execute."

Prescott entered the game completing a league-best 73.1% of his passes, and he threw at least three touchdown passes in four straight games entering Sunday. Through three quarters Sunday, he completed 6 of 19 passes for 79 yards.

Despite the lopsided score, McCarthy did not want to take Prescott out.

"Frankly, the fourth quarter was a conscious effort to keep him in there for the 2-minute work," McCarthy said. "It's something that if I was looking at all the situational work that we've done and the commitment that you put to each situation, we needed that work. So, I was happy to see us have some 2-minute production, just because I think that's something we can definitely carry forward out of this game."

Prescott would have been upset if he was taken out.

"There was game left out there to be played," Prescott said. "It never crossed my mind that I was coming out of the game. I think if somebody would have tried to make that decision, I would have told them I wasn't. Yeah, we needed to get something going. We needed to get some energy, some momentum. We needed to show our fight, our resiliency, something that's won us a lot of games. When you're getting beat like that, you've got to show your character.

"I think that's where the path starts with all of us staying in the game and fighting to the end and trying to get some momentum or something going just to take from this game. Yeah, I never thought of coming out of that."