FRISCO — Dak Prescott returns to where it all began with a desire to lead the Cowboys back to a spot it hasn’t known for 23 years.
Too much narrative flourish for your taste? A little heavy on the hyperbole?
What do you expect? Prescott leads the Cowboys into Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site where his unlikely rise began nearly 21/2 years ago, only four quarters away from the NFC Championship Game.
And, as LA Rams cornerback Marcus Peters eloquently states, the Cowboys are “America’s Team, so called.”
The Rams are seven-point favorites. The Cowboys chances for an upset rest on the hot hand — and legs — of Prescott, the continued dominance of Ezekiel Elliott, the threat of Amari Cooper and the highest-ranked defense remaining in the playoffs.
No one could have known on Aug. 13, 2016, that it would all lead back here. That’s the day Prescott got his first professional start, and the NFL returned to Los Angeles after a 21-year absence.
Prescott remembers the excitement of putting on a Cowboys uniform for the first time in a preseason game. He remembers the atmosphere and electricity as fans welcomed football back to the city.
He remembers completing 10 of 12 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns to announce what he would become for this franchise.
“Obviously, that was a special game, a special moment just for it to be my first reps in the NFL, to be able to go out there and have the performance that I did,” Prescott said.
“But it being preseason, that being two years ago, it doesn’t really matter right now.”
What matters in Saturday night’s divisional game is whether Prescott is better than his counterpart.
Prescott had the edge on Jared Goff when the two made their rookie debuts in ’16. Goff got the upper hand with the Rams 35-30 win over the Cowboys early in the ’17 season and has held it for most of this season.
But that has begun to shift. Prescott has a quarterback rating of 105.9 over the last six weeks as the Cowboys were forced to win to make the playoffs.
After a stirring 54-51 win over Kansas City, with a playoff spot secure and managing health taking precedence over wins in the stretch, Goff’s quarterback rating over that span is 74.8.
Goff throws for more yards. Prescott is better equipped than the Rams quarterback to win games with his legs. Prescott’s draw for 16 yards on third-and-14 late in the fourth quarter to ice the victory for Dallas is still being discussed at The Star.
“We like to pick the spots,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said of when they run Prescott. “You know what those are. Probably isn’t a good strategy to say when and all that, but you have to be a little bit mindful of how many it is.
“I think you really watch college football, a lot of these quarterbacks are kind of half running backs. Dak had over 500 carries in college, so he’s not unaccustomed to carrying the football.”
Nothing was said coming out of the team’s wild card win. But even though Prescott has taken part in all of practice the last two days, the quarterback has shown up on the report with a knee injury.
“My knee is good,” Prescott said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s great.”
Did he wrap it for practice the last two days?
“No, I’m good,” he said. “I mean, I’ve gotten a little something on it, a sleeve.”
Head coach Jason Garrett said Prescott hurt the knee on his punishing run for the first down on that quarterback draw.
“Yeah,” Prescott confirmed. “Yeah.”
Did the injury occur when the defender’s helmet hit his right knee?
“It really hit my thigh more than anything,” Prescott said.
Prescott is more forthcoming when the topic turns to the confidence he has in this team.
Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman sent the Cowboys quarterback a text, congratulating him on the “first postseason win of many” after the game against the Seahawks. Prescott said the text meant the world to him and he’s thankful for Aikman’s support.
Prescott also knows what it would mean if he could lead this franchise back to the NFC Championship Game after all these years.
“More than what it means for the past, but because of this group of guys that I’m going to do it with, just simply how we’ve been able to persevere all the adversity and everything we’ve been through together, off the field, on the field,” Prescott said.
“I just know we’ve got the right guys to do it and we’re excited for this game.”
Catch David Moore and Robert Wilonsky as they co-host Intentional Grounding on The Ticket (KTCK-AM 1310 and 96.7 FM) every Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. through the Super Bowl.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News