Dak Prescott has thrown for fewer yards. He’s been intercepted multiple times. He’s had worse games.
But Sunday marked only the second time the Dallas Cowboys’ offense has been held to single-digit points with Prescott at the helm.
The Cowboys had only a first-quarter rushing touchdown by Prescott to show in their 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The only other time they’ve been held to that few of points was in a 10-7 loss at New York last December.
“It’s frustrating,” Prescott said. “As a quarterback, as powerful of an offense as we are, we want to score points. To only come out with seven points, their defense deserves credit for as much as anything putting us down there. It wasn’t up to our standard or our expectations. We got to go back and get to work.”
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Prescott didn’t have the benefit of solid offensive line play. All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith was sidelined with a groin injury, and Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn exposed swing tackle Chaz Green for four sacks.
Clayborn had two more sacks with one coming against a scrambling Prescott and another against Byron Bell, who replaced Green late in the game.
Bell gave up an additional sack and Cowboys All-Pro right guard Zack Martin gave up a sack for the first time this season.
“I’ve played football a long time,” Prescott said. “I’ve had games similar to that. … I’m not going to lose confidence in any of them [offensive linemen] from one game. As I said, I’m not going to put everything on them, I’m going to look back at the film and see what we could’ve done better as a unit.”
The eight sacks were double what Prescott had ever experienced. The most times he’d previously been sacked was four by the Washington Redskins in Week 2 of 2016.
Going into the game, Prescott had been sacked just 10 times in the first eight games – never more than twice in a game.
“Certainly, protecting the quarterback is where it all starts in the passing game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “If you don’t do that very well you are going to have a hard time moving the ball through the air, and it really doesn’t matter what’s going on down the field. You have to protect first, and we didn’t do as good a job as we typically do in that area. We certainly have to look at it and find a way to get better.”
Prescott completed 20 of 30 passes for 176 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He set a career-high with 42 rushing yards on six carries, including an 11-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Prescott said the rushing yardage was more of a “byproduct” of the game. Of course he would have liked to have more success in the passing game.
The top receiving target, Dez Bryant, had four catches for 39 yards. Terrance Williams, who was coming off his best game of the season, was held to just one catch for 9 yards. Tight end Jason Witten led the team with seven catches for 59 yards, but most of those came late in the game.
It’s a game that Prescott and the Cowboys would like to put behind them as soon as possible. They just have to hope that what’s been regarded as the top offensive line gets back to being just that.
But Prescott wasn’t going to point fingers.
“Obviously you don’t have the time you want to throw, you can’t attack down the field like you want, but it’s hard for me to say it was all the time,” Prescott said. “I’ve got to look back and look at film. I could’ve got the ball out faster out some time, receivers come open, so it was a team deal tonight. It was a team loss. We’re all going to take credit. It sucked. But we’ll get better from it and use it to motivate us.”