Dak Prescott seemingly can’t win at times.
His patience and take-what-the-defensive-gives-him approach at times is considered one of the reasons for the Cowboys failing down-field passing game.
On Sunday, his poise and patience proved to key to the team’s breakout performance on offense in a 30-10 victory against the New York Giants to help keep the Cowboys’ playoff hopes alive.
Prescott, nicknamed Dink and Dunk Dak, stuck with the little plays and overcame dropped passes from his receivers to burn the Giants for a career-high 332 yards and three touchdowns.
It was the case of the little plays turning into big plays that allowed Prescott to break out of a month-long funk and his receivers to blow the game open with passes of 50 yards to Dez Bryant, 54 to Cole Beasley and 81-yards to Rod Smith.
All were short routes on third down to beat the blitz that turned into big gainers. Only Beasley’s play didn’t finish in the end zone, but it set up a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten.
The Cowboys only had three passing passing plays of 50 yards or more in the first 12 games combined.
The three plays of 50 yards-or-more were also the most by the Cowboys since at least 1994, per the Cowboys public relations staff.
“He was outstanding,” coach Jason Garrett said Prescott. “He kept playing through some situations. He just kept his poise, threw underneath when he needed to and when the time came and they heated us up and there was a chance to make a play down the field, he cashed in on it. I thought Dak did a really good job of recognizing it (the pressure), giving Dez a really good ball, giving Beasley a really good ball and at the end of it, Rod Smith a good ball where he could catch it in stride and go make a play. In each of those guys, the run after catch was huge. They made a good a catch and then got going."
The performance came after the worst month of the season for the second-year quarterback, who went from having the best rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history to a monumental November funk.
Prescott had four consecutive games with less than 200 passing yards and had five interceptions. He showed signs of life with two touchdowns in the victory against the Redskins the last time out, but still passed for a career-low 102 yards.
The Cowboys hope to continue build on what Prescott called a confidence booster for himself and his teammates.
“It’s confidence any time you are doing well and you are growing and your are feeling yourself and you are growing off what you are your teammates are doing,” Prescott said. “It’s good for us moving forward. We know what position we are in. Nothing has changed. We know where we are and what we’ve got to do. We are hungry and motivated to keep going."
The turning point came when Beasley took a short pass 54 yards on a third-and-2 play to set up the touchdown to Witten, breaking a 10-10 tie with 7 minutes, 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
“They blitzed. We saw it. Same with Beasley. They blitzed. We saw it,” Prescott said.
The flood gates would soon open for an offense that has struggled mightily over the past month.
It was third and 3 on the ensuing drive when Smith took a slant pass 81 yards to the house, burning a blitzing defense and a safety focused on Bryant.
Smith then followed with a 15-yard touchdown run after linebacker Sean Lee intercepted an Eli Manning pass.
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said the big plays came because the playmakers finally made plays. It was certainly a matter of the little plays turning into big plays. He credited Prescott with sticking to the play and trusting the receivers.
“The big plays have eluded us, especially lately,” Linehan said. “It was big for that. We have been putting a lot of emphasis on it. We started to signs of it last week, especially in the second half. We talked about that. We felt the trend was going in the right direction. You got to just stick with it. You can’t force that. Big plays come when playmakers make big plays."
But there was never a question or concern with Prescott, per Linehan.
Not over the plast four weeks and not Sunday, even though the offense bogged down with four drops by the receivers, including two by Bryant.
“Dak’s patience is the key,” Linehan said. “This guy has got ice water in his veins. He never gets rattled by anything, which tells me he is very mature for his age. A lot of guys would be wondering or questioning how am I playing. He never goes there. He just keeps working. He stayed patient the whole game. That was the key to us being able to break it open in the second half.”