NOTES: McCarthy wants Prescott to keep firing

Dec 18, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

NOTES: McCarthy wants Prescott to keep firing

The Cowboys are not ready to pull back the reigns on quarterback Dak Prescott, despite another pair of interceptions in Sunday’s loss at Jacksonville.

Prescott has thrown 10 interceptions in the last eight starts, the most of any quarterback in the NFL.

But the Cowboys signal caller will continue to be aggressive, and that is exactly what the coaching staff wants.

“He needs to keep firing,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. “He needs to keep going, let’s make that clear. So, we’re not slowing down.””

Prescott finished Sunday completing over 75% of his throws with three touchdowns. However, the two miscues – one his fault and one the receiver’s fault, was something the Cowboys could not overcome.

“The first interception was, you know, a decision,” McCarthy said about Prescott’s throw in the second quarter that was intercepted by Rayshawn Jenkins and returned to the Cowboys 11. “You have to just take the sack there or try to get the ball back to the line of scrimmage, and it is third-and-10.”

Four plays later, the Jaguars scored to cut Dallas’ lead to 27-24.

Then, in overtime, Prescott was let down by a receiver who had already missed two of eight passes thrown his way.

“He made a second base throw on the second interception,” McCarthy said. “That ball was placed right where it needed to be. Other than that, I thought he played at an extremely high level.”

Prescott finished with 256 yards and a 107.1 QB Rating, the fifth highest of the season.

“We have an evaluation process. It’s an excellent one. I’m confident in that. Every play is graded. I can stand here with confidence and tell you that the quarterback position is graded with extreme detail and Dak Prescott played at an extremely high level (Sunday). … Just go watch the tape. It’s deeper than the statistics. Statistics point directions, highlight things, but sometimes it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Elliott’s streak continues

With his touchdown in the first quarter, Ezekiel Elliott upped his streak of games with a touchdown to seven.

Elliott, who finished the game with 16 carries for 58 yards, scored on a 10-yard run through the heart of the Jacksonville defense with 4:31 to play in the first quarter to give the Cowboys the early 7-0 lead.

Elliott, who has 66 career TD runs, started this current run with a 14-yard TD run against Philadelphia in Week 6. He followed that up with two touchdowns each against the Lions and Vikings and then one per game against the Giants, Colts, and Texans.

Elliott has 10 touchdowns this season, the third-best year for the seven-year pro. He had 15 his rookie season in 2016 and then 12 in 2019. It is his second straight season with 10.

Cowboys, LVE get good news

The Cowboys and Leighton Vander Esch got the best possible news on Monday morning after the linebacker left Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars early in the game with a neck injury.

Vander Esch, who did not return, had an MRI on Monday morning, and no neck damage was found. The Cowboys’ leading tackler was diagnosed with a shoulder stinger that should allow him to return to action before the end of the regular season.

“Leighton, we are fortunate. It was much better than we thought,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. “He will not be available this week; I do know that.”

Defensive end Dorrance Armstrong and safety Donovan Wilson also left Sunday’s game with an injury, but both returned to play in the game. On Monday, both were deemed healthy for Saturday’s game against the Eagles.

Cowboys tops in takeaways

With three more turnovers on Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys took over the top spot for takeaways in the NFL with 26 this season.

The Cowboys had two fumble recoveries and an interception against Jacksonville, their 12th interception and the 13th and 14th fumble recoveries this season. They are currently just one turnover ahead of the Eagles and three in front of the Ravens.

With 17 turnovers of their own, the Cowboys are a plus-9 in turnover differential, good enough for second in the NFL behind only Philadelphia (+12).

Hurts, or Minshew, to start Saturday

News broke midafternoon on Monday that Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts might not be available to play in Saturday’s game with Dallas.

Hurts injured his throwing shoulder in the Eagles win over Chicago on Sunday.

If Hurts can’t go, the Eagles will turn to Gardner Minshew, who has completed two of four passes for 34 yards this season. Minshew is 8-14 as a starter over three seasons with Jacksonville (7-13) and Philadelphia (1-1).

“We’ll be ready, whether it’s Jalen or Gardner,” McCarthy said.

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