Prescott delivers historic playoff performance

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) drops back to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Prescott delivers historic playoff performance

To win on the road in the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys needed the type of game from quarterback Dak Prescott they haven’t seen from their signal caller in months.

Coming into their Super Wild Card Weekend game with Tampa Bay, Prescott had thrown at least one interception in seven straight games. And at least one of those picks was returned for a touchdown in three of the Cowboys’ last four games.

But Prescott broke that streak and delivered Cowboys Nation one of the best performances from any Dallas quarterback in the postseason. And that spans 65 games.

Prescott broke down the Buccaneers’ defense to the tune of 305 yards on 25 completions. He didn’t throw an interception for just the third time in 13 starts this season, and the first time since the Cowboys’ 40-3 win over the Vikings the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

It was a night that evolved from an inauspicious beginning to multi-record-setting moments in just 60 minutes of playoff football.

After what Prescott produced against the Commanders in the season finale, 128 yards passing and one touchdown, the Cowboys needed to get off to a good start.

That didn’t happen, as Prescott tossed three incompletions, none of which were close to being completed, in 13 seconds before punting.

But that would be as bad as it would get for Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense.

On his next pass, a 15-yard strike to Michael Gallup, Prescott would start a franchise record 11-straight completions in a playoff game. It was a perfect stretch of quarterback play, as Prescott picked apart the Buccaneers’ defense, and it went down like this:

  • First-and-10 at the Dallas 25: Michael Gallup for 15 yards
  • Second-and-8 at the Dallas 42: Noah Brown for 3 yards
  • Second-and-10 at the Tampa Bay 22: Dalton Schultz for 22 yards and a touchdown
  • Second-and-10 at the Dallas 20: Ezekiel Elliott for 9 yards
  • First-and-10 at the Dallas 32: Gallup for 4 yards
  • Third-and-3 at the Dallas 39: Tony Pollard for 5 yards
  • Third-and-8 at the Dallas 46: T.Y. Hilton for 14 yards
  • First-and-10 at the Tampa Bay 40: Jake Ferguson for 34 yards
  • First-and-10 at the Dallas 9: Hilton for 9 yards
  • First-and-10 at the Dallas 20: Schultz for 20 yards
  • First-and-10 at the Dallas 40: CeeDee Lamb for 4 yards

After two quick incompletions to halt the streak, Prescott then completed passes on four straight plays – Lamb for 20 yards, Gallup for 13 yards, Schultz for 6 yards, and then Schultz again for an 11-yard touchdown.

Prescott backed up his record-setting first half with a second half that was almost as impressive. He went 10 of 13 for 116 yards and two more touchdowns.

Prescott’s 305 yards passing is the third-best performance by a Cowboys quarterback in a playoff victory, behind only Troy Aikman’s 327 yards in a 35-9 win over Green Bay in a Divisional Playoff game in the 1994 season and Danny White’s 322-yard performance in a 30-27 win over Atlanta in the Divisional Round of the 1980 season. Prescott is also the only quarterback in team history to throw for more than 300 yards and toss four touchdowns in a playoff victory.

Once he got over some early postseason jitters, Prescott, who completed passes to eight different receivers, delivered balls on time and in the right spot for his guys to make plays.

It is the exact kind of performance fans have been waiting for since Prescott signed his 4-year, $160-million contract before the 2021 season.

Dare we say, considering the stakes at hand, it was the best performance from Prescott since he landed the starting job as a rookie back in 2016.

I would say so. But no time to celebrate

It’s on to San Francisco, where it will take a repeat performance to earn a second-straight road playoff win.

And now we know, he definitely has it in him.

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