Dak Prescott passed for 255 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys beat the Lions 26-24.
Now, can we stop all of this silly chatter about whether the Cowboys can win with Dak Prescott?
They can. It’s obvious. And it’s not like we haven’t seen it before.
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“You’ve heard me say this before, he’s a damn good football player,” head coach Jason Garrett said of Prescott. “He handles success. He handles adversity as well as anyone I’ve been around at that position. He’s a great leader. He never blinks. He just goes out and plays."
“I think if you look at his performance (Sunday), it’s the way we want our quarterbacks to play. A balance of run and pass and attack a lot of different ways,” Garrett said.
We’ve seen the Cowboys win in 2016 and 2017 until the debacle against Atlanta, running back Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension and left tackle Tyron Smith’s balky back conspired against Prescott.
The trick, if that’s how you choose to term it, is that the Cowboys must play a certain style to win with Prescott — and that’s OK.
Tony Romo, if you think about it, had one of his best seasons when Jason Garrett changed his style in 2014, and the running game became the epicenter of the offense.
Y’all remember the 34 touchdown passes, 12 wins and the first playoff win since 2011. You remember the 113.2 passer rating.
But he passed for only 3,705 yards and he had just one 300-yard game. Just so you know, Prescott passed for 3,667 with two 300-yard games in 2016.
We all know Romo is the vastly superior passer, but when the Cowboys execute their offensive approach, it’s about a balanced offense — not the passer.
In Romo’s first seven years as a starter, he had 45 300-yard passing games, and four of more than 400 yards.
In 2014, Romo threw more than 35 passes in a game just twice, while DeMarco Murray set franchise records for carries (392) and yards (1,845).
From 2006-13, Romo threw more than 35 passes 51 times, including five games with more than 50 passes and two with more than 60.
So it doesn’t matter that dudes like Ryan Fitzpatrick started the season with three straight 400-yard games or a rookie like Pat Mahomes is averaging 300 yards a game.
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Prescott and the Cowboys can with this minimalist approach to passing.
The key? When he does throw, the Cowboys must get big plays from the passing game.
Against Detroit, Prescott averaged 9.4 per attempt and had four completions of more than 30 yards.
In his first 24 starts, he average 7.6 yards per attempt, which is a winning number. In his next 11 starts, when the offense stunk, he averaged 6.2 yards per pass.
Prescott is always going to have the intangibles like leadership and poise that will help the Cowboys win, but he must be a consistently better passer.
His footwork must be pristine. When it is, the accuracy follows. He also has to throw some deep passes. He threw perfect deep balls to Michael Gallup and Elliott that resulted in gains of 37 and 34, respectively.
"I just have the feeling that Dak is going to help us win and help the team in so many different ways,” Jerry Jones said. “I just don’t know that there is a limit to the nuances of how he might be able to contribute and to me that’s a great thing with a quarterback."
Against Detroit, Prescott helped Dallas win by scooping up his own fumble, scrambling and tossing the ball out of bounds to avoid a huge loss on second down of the Cowboys’ game-winning drive.
He converted the third-and-three, and two plays later hit Elliott on a deep pass that set up the game-winning field goal. It was his first fourth-quarter comeback since a 26-20 win over Tampa Bay in December 2016.
"He played with a great spirit,” Garrett said. “He threw the ball well from the pocket when things broke down. He made a lot of good decisions. And he made some big throws at the most important times of the game."
"He threw to different guys all over the field, made plays with his feet, made plays with his arm, made plays at the critical moment," said Garrett.