One for a run? Dak Prescott, Cowboys build confidence with win over Seahawks
ARLINGTON, Texas – Dak Prescott said he’d have a word with Ezekiel Elliott.
It was the third-year running back, after all, who described the Cowboys quarterback’s pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives sandwiching an interception as “legendary” in the aftermath of Dallas’ 24-22 wild-card win over the Seahawks.
“I think that’s quite accurate,” receiver Amari Cooper chimed in.
Hold up, Prescott said.
“I’m in a young career. I’m three years in,” Prescott said. “I may have to tell (Elliott) to not say that again or to wait until later. Obviously it’s a great compliment. Obviously it’s a guy we came in together and we’ve been through the ups and the downs.
“(But) my goal is bigger than one playoff win.”
And yet, one playoff win is notable in Dallas these days.
The Cowboys entered a contest vs. Russell Wilson and Co. without a postseason win in the last three seasons. Not since the 1995 season has the franchise reached the NFC Championship Game. Prescott had led the Cowboys to 32 regular-season wins in three seasons, second among NFL quarterbacks only to Tom Brady in the span, but had not yet tallied a postseason victory.
Now a young Cowboys team has seen what winning in the postseason means.
“We ready,” defensive end Demarcus Lawrence said of the team’s takeaway. “There ain’t no turning back.”
Dallas built a small but steady lead through the first two and a half quarters, registering 3 points on its opening drive and a touchdown with 28 seconds left in the second quarter to take a 10-6 advantage into halftime.
The Cowboys bled the clock all night, hogging the ball for 34:50, nine minutes and 30 seconds more than a Seattle team limited to 73 rushing yards. The defense held 1,000-yard back Chris Carson to just 1.5 yards per carry and Russell Wilson to negative-8 passing yards in the first quarter.
Wilson hadn’t passed for negative yardage in 496 career regular-season or playoff quarters.
And still, Seattle led 14-10 entering the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys didn’t panic.
“Make no mistake about it,” owner Jerry Jones said, “they weren’t going to quit until the bell rung.”
Prescott opened the fourth quarter with a 34-yard pass to Cooper, following up with a 10-yard rush that first appeared to be a touchdown but then was overturned to set Dallas up a foot from the goal line. On the ensuing play, Elliott powered into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown since Thanksgiving.
“Pounded it with Zeke, pounded it with Dak and the rest of us made plays when called upon,” wide receiver Cole Beasley said. “That’s kind of how our offense goes. High-pressure situations, that’s when Dak plays his best ball.”
Prescott added more pressure when a 16-yard pass to Noah Brown was intercepted in the end zone with 9:43 to play, as linebacker K.J. Wright came down with a bobbled pass.
The Cowboys defense responded with a three-and-out.
Enter Elliott, who notched three first downs on the Cowboys’ game-winning drive before Prescott found himself facing third-and-14 from his own 17, a Seattle pass-rusher flying off the line of scrimmage. Four defenders in total were sprawled on the field by the time Prescott shed their tackles to somersault into the end zone.
Again, he was just short.
And again, the Cowboys – this time Prescott, on a rush the immediate next drive – responded with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
“Dak can do those flips, OK?” Jones said. “Dak can do it all.”
Lawrence, who finished with six tackles and a quarterback hit, called his quarterback an “acrobat.”
“That’s a Tank-ism,” Prescott laughed as he eschewed yet another label on a night when others throughout the organization heaped praise on him.
But Prescott did accept one designation Elliott bestowed, first in a sideline interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews and again later in the locker room: “grown-(expletive) man.”
“I feel like I’m a grown-(expletive) man just in general, playing like it or not,” Prescott allowed. “I’ll take the compliment. Obviously it felt good tonight.”
Next comes a divisional road matchup at either the Rams or the Saints, the latter of whom Dallas beat 13-10 at AT&T Stadium on Nov. 29. The Cowboys will know their opponent by Sunday night after the Eagles and Bears play in the NFC’s second wild-card game to determine second-round seeding.
Prescott and teammates said they’ll watch that game tomorrow but have neither a preference nor worry about their next opponent.
“Who cares?” Lawrence said. “Either way we’re going on the road and got to win. Period. Period. So who cares?”
Saturday’s implications for their goal remain unchanged.
“It gives us a chance to keep going on, simple as that,” Prescott said. “Me and this team, we want to win it all.”