February 28, 2024

FRISCO, Texas — Dak Prescott was sitting at his locker Sunday, holding casual conversations with a handful of reporters and talking about becoming a father for the first time, “Game of Thrones” storylines and “The Good Doctor.”

In Prescott’s hands, he held an iPad that was playing the Seattle Seahawks‘ most recent game against the San Francisco 49ers, rewinding and fast-forwarding play after play of their defense, picking out small details to go over time and time again.

As Prescott enters Thursday’s game against Seattle at AT&T Stadium (8:15 p.m. ET, Prime Video), he is coming off a streak of performances unlike any other in his career.

“I’ll tell you, the way that I feel, the confidence I have in this group, myself; ‘zone,’ I guess you could call it,” Prescott said recently.

As December beckons, Prescott has an opportunity to further his case to become the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. The Cowboys’ next five games come against teams with real playoff or Super Bowl hopes. After the Cowboys host the Seahawks Thursday night, the Philadelphia Eagles come to AT&T Stadium on Dec. 10. That’s followed by road games against the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins before a short week to get ready for the Detroit Lions at home on Dec. 30.

In his past six games, Prescott has thrown for 1,874 yards and completed 72.3% of his passes with 18 touchdown passes and two interceptions.

If Prescott can maintain that level of play — and the Cowboys continue to win — then he might do something only Emmitt Smith has done in franchise history by winning the MVP award. Smith won the MVP in 1993 when he led the league in rushing despite missing two games in a contract dispute. The Cowboys lost both games without Smith, proving his value.

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy was coaching the Green Bay Packers for two of Aaron Rodgers‘ four MVP seasons.

“I mean Aaron had a number of stretches that he went on, and MVP seasons, and all that,” McCarthy said, “but yeah, this definitely has that type of feeling.”

Cooper Rush has been Prescott’s backup since 2017 and has a unique point of view.

“About as good as you can play quarterback,” Rush said. “It’s the best I’ve seen him play.”

And it all started from the season’s low point, a 42-10 loss to the 49ers on Oct. 8. Prescott threw for 153 yards and was intercepted three times.

It led to cackling from those who believe Prescott can never ascend to the heights of a Super Bowl quarterback, but it’s been followed by a run that has kept the naysayers quiet, except those who want to quibble with the Cowboys’ opponents in that stretch.

Yes, the Cowboys have not beaten a team with a winning record, but during their current 5-1 run, they have handed four of those opponents their worst or second-worst loss of the season. In the Cowboys’ 28-23 loss to the Eagles (now 10-1) on Nov. 5, Prescott threw for 374 yards and three touchdown passes. Only Washington’s Sam Howell (397 yards, four TDs) has had more against Philadelphia this season. Prescott had more yards against the Eagles than Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa.

According to ESPN BET, he has the fourth-best odds to win the award behind Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Mahomes.

“It means I’m playing well,” Prescott said of his name being tied to MVP talk. “Simple as that. I’m about one goal — and it’s a big team goal — and I know if my name’s in there, that means we’re playing well. So that’s great. But at the end of the day, we’re just trying to build. I mean being eight years into this thing, it’s about building and building, and making sure we’re getting better and better each and every week, and getting hot right when we need to be.”

play

2:47

Rodgers tells McAfee that Dak is one of his favorite QBs to watch

Aaron Rodgers joins Pat McAfee to break down why he has loved watching Dak Prescott play this season.

Prescott is hot right now.

Only Tony Romo (19 in 2007) has thrown more touchdown passes than Prescott’s 18 in a six-game span of the same season in team history. Don Meredith had 20 touchdown passes in a six-game run that spanned the 1965 and 1966 seasons. Prescott’s performance on Thanksgiving against the Washington Commanders marked the 10th four-touchdown game of his career, tying the club mark set by Romo.

Yet, each week for Prescott is like walking on a tightrope, and he knows one misstep will bring back the cackling. Criticism is nothing new for Cowboys quarterbacks, from Meredith to Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman to Romo.

Aikman was booed after winning three Super Bowls while attending a Dallas Mavericks game in 1997. It happened at other times, too, as the Cowboys fell from Super Bowl winners to non-playoff contenders late in his career.

Romo went from everyman hero to overrated despite becoming the franchise leader in passing yards and touchdown passes because he could not get past the divisional round.

Prescott was once a fan. After the Cowboys lost a win-and-get-in-the-playoffs game to Washington in 2012, a frustrated Prescott, then at Mississippi State, vented on Twitter:

“I’m DONE taking up for Romo. #hadenough”

They were teammates four seasons later.

“That’s why I say, ‘I understand fans,'” Prescott said. “I get when fans are upset. I get it. I was once there.”

Fan criticism is one thing. Media criticism is another, even if some of it feels like a WWE bit used for clicks and ratings.

“Some of the stuff, I’ve said it plenty of times, he deals with so much criticism it’s insane,” wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said. “He has a bad game. Oh, my God, it’s all kinds of stuff. It’s upsetting. I get it, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my teammate, [but] as a person in general, he has to put his phone down. He has to lock his phone at some point. Nobody wants to see that all day. But at the end of the day, everybody is entitled to their own opinion, and Dak is doing a great job of blocking it out and being the player that he is. So far, he’s been crushing it.”

If he keeps crushing it, the MVP talk will grow and he can reset a narrative that he doesn’t perform well in big games. And even that might be temporary. It may not completely reset until he wins a Super Bowl or, at the very least, takes the Cowboys to the NFC Championship Game.

Prescott understands.

“The challenge is just staying true to that process, not getting ahead, not getting overwhelmed, understanding that what I say to myself is, ‘I haven’t done s—,’ you know what I mean?” he said. “Regular season, numbers are great — getting wins, that’s what’s most important. But at the end of the day, we’re trying to stack and keep growing this team to get better each and every week.”

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