Ezekiel Elliott emerged as the star Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys.
He set a career high with 219 yards from scrimmage, scoring three touchdowns as the focal point of the offense in a much-needed 40-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
But don’t forget about quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw for three touchdowns for the third consecutive game — a feat Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman never accomplished — and completed 16 of 25 passes for 234 yards with a 134.0 passer rating.
“He’s extremely poised and runs this offense at a very high level,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “It’s fun to be in the huddle with a guy like that.”
Prescott was at his best against the 49ers’ suspect secondary. He completed passes to seven different receivers and took advantage of favorable passing opportunities with so much focus on Elliott.
Prescott capped a 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter with a perfect 18-yard strike down the seam to tight end Jason Witten.
Witten made it more memorable by hauling it in with one hand, but he gave all the credit to Prescott.
“I thought Dak made a really good throw, holding that safety and then coming back to me,” Witten said. “It’s good to get those opportunities down the seam and show that I can still make that play. It’s a really good play in the red zone, and I’m glad to see us connect on that.”
On the Cowboys’ first offensive play of the second half, Prescott found Elliott for a 72-yard touchdown on a screen pass. It’s the second-longest TD pass of Prescott’s career — he and Elliott hooked up on the same play for an 83-yard score last year at Pittsburgh.
“Now he has both of them,” Prescott said. “He played his game tonight.”
On the next drive, Prescott marched the team 80 yards in 13 plays, scoring on a 2-yard keeper.
Prescott made it 3-for-3 on scoring drives to start the second half, finding Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone for a 2-yard score. That marked the 71st career TD by Bryant, tying him with Hall of Famer Bob Hayes for most in franchise history.
For Prescott, it was his third game of the season with a 100-or-better passer rating and his fifth straight with multiple touchdown passes. It also marked Prescott’s seventh career game with at least three touchdown passes and one or fewer interceptions. In a player’s first two seasons, only Hall of Famer Dan Marino had more (nine).
And, as stated, Prescott now has three straight games with three touchdown passes. He joins Tony Romo and Don Meredith as the only quarterbacks in franchise history to accomplish that feat.
“We didn’t win three games in a row, so it really doesn’t mean that much,” Prescott said. “For me, it’s about the wins at the end of the day. Touchdowns are great and they obviously help us win, but three wins to me sounds better than three-touchdown games.”
Well, Prescott is putting the Cowboys in position to win games. That’s nothing new, of course. He’s been doing it since last year, and Sunday is a promising sign for a team that was reeling going into the bye week.
“I thought he played really well, obviously,” coach Jason Garrett said. “One of the things we wanted to do was control the line of scrimmage and run the football. When you do that, you get so many things off of that. You get favorable coverage to throw at, your naked game, your play-action game comes alive.
“I think he’s just done a really good job of making plays down in the red zone to cash in on some of these long drives that we’ve had. He’s playing at a very high level.”