ARLINGTON, Texas — There is immense pressure being the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. You not only have to deal with what’s ahead of you, but you’re always compared to the quarterbacks who came before you.
Dak Prescott understands he’ll always be shadowed by the legends of Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and even Tony Romo. On Saturday night, the third-year quarterback went a long way toward keeping their ghosts from haunting him.
Prescott captured the first playoff victory of his career as the NFC East champion Cowboys defeated the Seahawks 24-22 in an NFC wild-card game at AT&T Stadium.
Staubach and Aikman got help during their postseason journeys, and Prescott got his share of assistance Saturday night as running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and Amari Cooper caught seven passes for 106 yards. But Prescott showed his true grit when it counted most, leading the Cowboys to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and a spot in the divisional playoff round next week against either the Rams or the Saints.
Prescott completed 22-of-33 passes for 226 yards. He threw one touchdown pass and ran for another while orchestrating a balanced Dallas attack that produced 380 total yards, with 164 coming on the ground. Prescott scored the game-deciding points on a quarterback sneak that gave the Cowboys a 24-14 lead with 2:08 remaining. The touchdown came after Prescott had scrambled for 16 yards on third-and-14.
Ezekiel Elliott comes up big as Cowboys squeak past Seahawks
ARLINGTON, Texas — Dak Prescott saw an opening up the…
“He’s a rare guy,” coach Jason Garrett said of Prescott. “His leadership, his toughness, his spirit is like no other. Some way, somehow he was going to figure this out for us. I thought he was outstanding.”
The Cowboys earned the win with those two fourth-quarter drives after the Seahawks had taken a 14-10 lead. A 34-yard completion from Prescott to Cooper gained much of the yardage in a nine-play, 67-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run by Elliott that gave the Cowboys a 17-14 lead.
Later, Prescott pumped the Cowboys’ advantage to a 24-14 when he tucked the ball and ran 16 yards on a third-and-14 at the Seattle 17. He was stopped short of the goal line as he was tackled head-over-heels. He went the rest of the distance on a quarterback sneak. That’s how Staubach and Aikman won big games.
“We got this first one,” Prescott said. “It’s pure excitement for the team the way we got it done with ups and downs and were able stick it out the way we’ve done all season long. It felt good.”
Though the Seahawks struggled to get their league-leading running game going, the Cowboys earned just enough on the ground to keep the Seahawks guessing. Elliott, the league’s leading rusher with 1,434 yards, had 88 at halftime, most of it coming on a 44-yard run that led to the only touchdown of the half, an 11-yard soft toss from Prescott to wide receiver Michael Gallup.
Elliott also gained 17 tough yards on the drive that ended with Prescott sneaking in from the 1.
“Everybody worked well together,” Prescott said. “When we can do that, it makes my job easier.”
Prescott was playing in just his second playoff game after losing to the Packers in the wild-card round in 2016. Russell Wilson was playing his 13th playoff game and showed his experience by trying to rally the Seahawks. But Wilson got little production out of his running game and lost kicker Sebastian Janikowski to a thigh injury after he missed a 57-yard field goal to end the first half. Wilson wound up 18-of-27 for 233 yards and a touchdown.
It was an exciting finish after the game came to a temporary halt with 7:14 remaining in the first quarter after Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns suffered a gruesome ankle injury while catching a 14 yard pass from Wilson. He was eventually carted off the field, but it took time for players and fans to synch back into a game that Prescott claimed for his first playoff win.