Disappointing end, promising future for Prescott-led Cowboys
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is more convinced than ever that his rookie quarterback can play at the highest level.
And that the Cowboys were good enough to maybe win the Super Bowl this season with Dak Prescott and fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott.
But another Super Bowl shot will have to wait for another season after an impressive Prescott-led comeback came up just short in the NFC divisional playoff game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, who won 34-31 on a game-ending field goal Sunday.
”I know now that this team was capable of playing all the way through this thing, and even with rookies in key spots I know now we were ready to have a win,” Jones said. ”We didn’t. That’s very real. … It hurts, it really hurts.”
After the Cowboys were down 21-3 midway through the second quarter, their largest deficit in a season when they won 13 games and were the NFC’s top seed, Prescott threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant.
Prescott, who replaced injured veteran Tony Romo in the preseason, threw two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. After finding Bryant again , Prescott powered through the middle for the 2-point conversion that tied the game at 28.
Then came an exchange of long field goals only 58 seconds apart after the two-minute warning before Rodgers and the Packers got one more shot, and set up Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal.
Asked about his emotions, Prescott responded, ”I think as low as they could get at this point. This is a terrible feeling.”
Prescott threw for 302 yards while becoming the first rookie in the Super Bowl era with three TD passes in a playoff game. After his lone interception in the third quarter, the Cowboys responded with one off Rodgers. Elliott ran for 125 yards.
With the loss, the Cowboys (13-4) have now failed to make it past the divisional game in their nine playoff appearances since winning their most recent Super Bowl 21 seasons ago.
”Once we put that behind us, I think there’s nothing but good things looking forward in what this team can do,” Prescott said.
Prescott had an 11-game winning streak during the regular season, and kept the starting job after Romo was ready to return from the back injury he suffered in the third preseason game.
Jones wasn’t yet ready to address the future for Romo, a starter for 10 seasons.
”We’ll obviously look at what we’re doing. We won’t do it tomorrow. We won’t do it the next day,” Jones said. ”We’ll be looking at where we are relative to Tony and relative to other players, but not tonight.”
The Cowboys almost became the third team in the Super Bowl era to win in the playoffs after trailing by 15 points in the fourth quarter.
The first was Dallas in 1972, when Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion Roger Staubach rallied the Cowboys for a 30-28 win over San Francisco.
After Mason Crosby kicked a tiebreaking 56-yard field goal for Green Bay with 1:33 left, Prescott was ready for another shot.
”He didn’t blink. He didn’t do anything but lead, as well as play, in a way that you can win championships,” Jones said.
All Prescott thought about were the two-minute drills that end Thursday practices.
”I don’t think about what this means, what this exact drive means, just concentrate on each and every play coach called,” he said.
Prescott had two completions for 35 yards to the 40 before spiking the ball to stop the clock. After a 7-yard catch by Cole Beasley, Prescott’s third-and-2 pass was knocked down at the line.
Dan Bailey then kicked his third field goal, but Rodgers – the Super Bowl MVP when the Packers became champions in the same building six seasons ago – still had 35 seconds. His scrambling 36-yard pass to a toe-dragging Jared Cook on the sideline set up the winning kick.
”It was a great game all the way around, just hate to be on the losing end,” Prescott said. ”These are games I dreamed of as a little kid of playing, and plan to play in many more of them.”
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL