Dak Prescott: 'Pretty cool' to break Tony Romo's Dallas Cowboys' record for touchdown passes in season

PHILADELPHIA -- As Dak Prescott went to the sideline after his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Corey Clement on Saturday night, some of the Dallas Cowboys' coaches kept congratulating him.

"I thought they were saying congrats for five touchdowns, to be honest," Prescott said.

That might have been part of it, but Prescott established the Cowboys' single-season record for touchdown passes with his 8-yard throw to Clement in Dallas' 51-26 win against the Philadelphia Eagles, eclipsing the mark held by Tony Romo, who had 36 touchdown passes in 2007.

"I just think it's a helluva year for a guy that was in a slump," coach Mike McCarthy deadpanned. "He's special. He's a special man. He's a tremendous leader. Hopefully he'll get some recognition for how he plays the game on the field. He's so consistent in his approach. What's exciting is we have a lot of growth in front of us and him in particular, too. He's still a young quarterback that has a lot of excellent football in front of him."

In a three-game stretch from Weeks 13 to 15, Prescott totaled just three touchdown passes and had three interceptions, though the Cowboys won all three games.

Entering Saturday, Prescott, whose previous season high was 30 touchdowns in 2019, knew he had a chance to reach Romo's mark, "but that's not anything I really ever think about." Prescott did not have the benefit of a 17th regular-season game to break the mark because he missed the Oct. 31 meeting against the Minnesota Vikings with a calf strain.

For the second time in three games, Prescott threw four touchdown passes in the first half. He had four in the 56-14 win against the Washington Football Team on Dec. 26. His first touchdown, a 14-yarder to Cedrick Wilson, came on the Cowboys' first possession.

In the second quarter, Prescott gave the Cowboys the lead for good with a 24-yard touchdown to Wilson. He closed the first half with two touchdown passes to tight end Dalton Schultz (2 yards, 9 yards) in the final 1:45 to give the Cowboys a 30-17 lead to equal Romo's mark.

"I mean, if I wasn't in [a slump], I guess I could've done it a while back," Prescott said. "But, yeah, I mean it's pretty cool. It's pretty cool to get a record like that. I mean obviously knowing who's come before me and who played the position here before me. I'm just the beneficiary of a lot of hard work, playcalling, offensive line protecting and a bunch of different guys making plays."

In 2019, Prescott fell a yard short of breaking Romo's record of passing yards in a season with 4,902, and the coaches were aware at the start of the third quarter he needed one more touchdown pass to break Romo's TD record.

He was able to get the throw he needed -- a pass to the flat to Clement, a former Eagle -- on the Cowboys' second possession of the second half, and his night was over, finishing with 295 yards on 21-of-27 passing.

It is the 11th time in franchise history a quarterback has had five touchdown passes in a game. Romo last had five TD passes in a game on Oct. 6, 2013, against the Denver Broncos. Don Meredith had three five-touchdown games, while Romo and Craig Morton did it twice.

Prescott has three games with at least four touchdown passes this season and seven for his career.

Perhaps more important, the Cowboys' offense was able to show some life in a road game, even if it came against an Eagles' defense that was without a number of starters. The Cowboys had gone five straight road games without scoring more than 27 points as the offense hit a lull after Prescott's calf strain.

Wilson finished with 119 yards on five carries in addition to his two touchdowns. Amari Cooper caught five passes for 79 yards and CeeDee Lamb had 45 yards on two catches, including a 31-yarder in which he bounced off three tacklers.

Ezekiel Elliott finished with 87 yards on 18 carries to give him 1,002 yards for the season after playing most of the year with a right knee injury. Elliott had not had more than 52 yards in any of his past 10 games.

The Cowboys finished the season with a franchise-record 530 points scored by an NFL record 22 different players, with Clement and undrafted rookie JaQuan Hardy joining the mix Saturday.

The Cowboys finished 12-5 and undefeated in the NFC East (6-0) and can finish as high as the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and as low as No. 4. To climb to the second seed, they need the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals to lose. To be the No. 3 seed, they would need the Rams and Cardinals to lose to the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

Regardless, they know they will have at least one playoff game at AT&T Stadium.

"They're nice records," McCarthy said. "I think those are things when you sit down at the end of the journey you look back and say, 'Boy, that was a helluva year,' and you look at those moments. But we view this as the starting line. We've put ourselves in position. Our goal is to always be in the tournament, so we'll see exactly where we end up come [Sunday night], and most importantly, it's difficult to get in this spot. It's difficult to win 12 games. But most importantly is we take advantage of this opportunity."