Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott insists that he isn’t trying to do too much for an offense missing All-Pros Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith.
But Prescott had the worst game of his young career on Sunday night when the Philadelphia Eagles rolled to a 37-9 victory.
Prescott was intercepted a career-high three times and had a career-low 30.4 passer rating. He threw it 31 times and finished with 145 passing yards, only the third time he’s thrown for fewer than 150 passing yards in a game he started and played the majority of.
“Consciously, I’m not trying to carry the whole team,” Prescott said. “I’m not trying to do that. I’m not putting more on myself at all. I just simply got to play better.”
Tight end Jason Witten and right guard Zack Martin don’t believe Prescott has put added pressure on himself.
Quite simply, the entire team is to blame for blowout losses to the Atlanta Falcons and Eagles the past two weeks.
“Since the day he walked in this organization, all he’s done is play his tail off,” Witten said of Prescott. “We got to do a better job helping him out. The guy has ice in his veins. You can’t put it on him. It’s all of us. We got to perform better.”
Martin pointed to situational football as the reason the Cowboys are a .500 team at 5-5.
“Dak’s been unbelievable,” Martin said. “A few didn’t go his way tonight. It all starts from we didn’t convert on third-and-shorts, so we put him in bad situations. We’ve got to be better at situational football.”
The Cowboys converted just 3 of 14 third downs. Prescott turned it over on two third downs, as well, on an interception and on a sack-fumble that the Eagles returned for a touchdown.
All three of the conversions came on the same drive late in the first half, too, when the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal on a 15-play drive.
That drive ended when the Cowboys couldn’t convert a third-and-6 play.
For the game, the Cowboys failed to convert on plays of third-and-5 or shorter four times.
“At critical times, we just couldn’t get it going,” Witten said. “They’re a good defense and they did a lot of good things. But offensively, we just weren’t good enough at critical times.”
The third-down struggles weren’t an issue going into the game. The Cowboys were the fourth-best team at converting on third down going into it, converting 45.5 percent (46-of-101) of the time.
Of course, having the league’s reigning rushing champion, Elliott, and arguably the best left tackle in the game, Smith, helped in those situations. But the Cowboys don’t expect to have that significant of a drop-off without them.
“We all have a job to do. Whoever has to step in, it’s always next man up,” said running back Alfred Morris, who has gotten the majority of the carries in Elliott’s absence. “That’s the type of business it is for us. We need to get back in our groove and be able to execute and win games. That’s the only that matters for us.”
And, despite his struggles Sunday, the team isn’t about to question Prescott. Coach Jason Garrett blamed most of the passing struggles on poor pass protection, but also said Prescott made bad decisions on a couple plays including his second interception when he tried to force a throw to Dez Bryant.
“We have to get better there,” Garrett said. “We have to do a better job protecting the quarterback and giving Dak a chance. And I think that will help everything. I think we will be able to simply be more efficient. Complete more balls, make more big plays.”
The Cowboys are a reeling team by most measures, but nobody is ready to press the panic button quite yet. Especially when it comes to the quarterback play.
“He’s as mentally tough as any young player I’ve seen in my 15 years with this organization and studying guys around this league,” Witten said. “I know he’s made of the right stuff and will come back.”
Added Martin, “One thing that’s great about this team is we have a bunch of fighters on this team and no one’s going to quit. We’ve still got a lot of season left. Six games to go and I think we really still control our own destiny.”
Cowboys vs. Chargers
3:30 p.m. Thursday, KTVT/11