Mac Engel

If Dak Prescott wants to be a franchise QB, he has to complete the comeback

Jerry Jones will tell you Dak Prescott is a franchise quarterback, but our Pro Football Hall of Fame owner and GM will also try to convince you a Ford Focus is a Ferrari.

Dak is not some Ford Focus, but we know a Ferrari when we see one.

To be a franchise quarterback, or a Ferrari, Dak had to complete the comeback on Sunday. The NFL franchise quarterback can pull, in the words of ex-teammate turned ESPN broadcaster Jason Witten, “a rabbit out of his head.”

On Sunday outside of D.C., Dak went to pull for the rabbit and, against all conceivable logic, the little guy just about came out. But he didn’t. We’re talking about the Cowboys, where the magic is in the gift shop and seldom on the field.

The Cowboys lost 20-17 to Washington and now have their bye week to ponder their mediocrity. Or rather aspire to that lofty mark. They are 3-4 now, with all four losses coming away from Arlington.

A game that started out as a YukkyDuk nearly turned into The ComeDak but finished as a, ‘What Happened Was’ loss for the Cowboys. This should have been Dak’s first signature win.

“Without Dak (we) wouldn’t have had a chance in this game. I don’t want to hear the mess about Dak is not good enough, all that stuff, blah, blah, blah. Without that guy we have no chance,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “He makes plays all game with his feet and extended plays to give us an opportunity to win the game. If we didn’t have him we would have been in trouble.”

But if Jerry, or anyone, wants to label Dak as a “Franchise Quarterback” he has to win this sort of game, when it’s on him. When nothing else works.

He nearly did just that.

Cowboys kicker Brett Maher finally missed a field goal that would have sent the game to overtime with no time remaining. But the rabbit died when his 52-yard try missed.

On the previous play before the final kick, long snapper L.P. Ladouceur was called for a “snap infraction” that turned a 47-yard kick into a 52 yarder. Maher, who had made 16 straight, had plenty of leg on the kick; he just boinked it off the left upright.

The Cowboys have more than a week to kick themselves all over DFW for a game they know they should have won.

One week after the Cowboys scored 40 points against the Jacksonville Jaguars at home, the offense Cowboys’ fans have come to know and hate returned for their trip to Washington D.C. That is, with one exception.

With 33 yards on 15 carries, running back Zeke Elliott had one of his worst games as a pro. That left it to Dak. That left it to Dak playing behind and offensive line that was ... was ... what’s a four-letter word for horrible?

On multiple plays Dak completed first downs only to be let down by a dropped pass, or an offensive linemen called for holding. Poor rookie guard Connor Williams may want to do some retail therapy this week to take his mind off this game in D.C.

Dak passed it better than any previous game this season.

He finished 22 off 35 for 273 yards and one touchdown pass. His touchdown pass to Michael Gallup in the first half was a gorgeous throw that covered 49 yards.

Dak also ran the ball six times for 33 yards and a touchdown. He took a sideline hit in the first half that former teammate and current CBS broadcaster Tony Romo said immediately during the telecast, “That’s a concussion.”

Amazingly (wink-wink), the hit on Dak was not ruled a concussion.

“I’ve been hit many a times and it was a good solid hit but I was fine,” he said.

Say whatever you want about Dak, but this is a tough kid who has the respect of his teammates.

With just under five minutes remaining in the game, and the Cowboys trailing 13-10, Dak’s fumble at the 1-yard line resulted in a Redskins touchdown. It was his second lost fumble of the game.

“I was trying not to make a bad play and ended up making it worse,” Prescott said. “I have to be smarter in that moment.”

On the strength of Dak’s arms and legs, the Cowboys made it close with a Dak touchdown run to make it 20-17. The defense forced a punt and Dak had the ball, and one timeout, at Dallas’ own 36 with 1:09 remaining.

“I’m not surprised at all,” receiver Allen Hurns said. “That’s not a guy who is going to shy down from whatever he did. He was ready for that moment. Anyone in this locker room would say that about him.”

Well-meaning and deserved verbal platitudes aside, franchise quarterbacks pull this off, and their team wins this game.

Dak’s third-down pass was on point and caught for 19 yards by Beasley. Dak would push the offense all the way down to the Redskins’ 28 before it all went bad. Dak had the Cowboys set up for overtime, and possibly a win they think they deserved.

With his running back going nowhere, Dak nearly did it to prove his boss right, that he can be a franchise quarterback.

Dak nearly “pulled the rabbit out of his head.”

Instead, the little rabbit never made it out, the Cowboys are not even .500, and you can’t call Dak a franchise QB yet.

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