FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The issue is no longer whether Dak Prescott will start ahead of a healthy Tony Romo for Dallas.
Now the question is how far the Cowboys can go with a rookie quarterback after they tied a franchise record with their eighth straight win and a few hours later ended up with the NFL's best record when New England lost to Seattle.
Prescott's performance in the fourth quarter of a wild 35-30 win at Pittsburgh stole any of the surprise there might have been with owner and general manager Jerry Jones declaring afterward that Romo would be the backup Sunday at home against Baltimore (5-4).
It will be a few days shy of a year since the last time the 36-year-old Romo was active for a game. And it has been 10 years since Romo, who broke a bone in his back in a preseason game, wasn't the Dallas starter.
The team's longest same-season winning streak since Roger Staubach took Dallas to the Super Bowl 39 years ago makes the decision easy.
“It's just going with the obvious,” Jones said. “I get asked about it every time I open my mouth. It's not hard. It's not hard at all. Tony would make the same decision.”
Prescott directed two 75-yard touchdown drives in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys (8-1) trailing the Steelers by a point each time. While fellow standout rookie Ezekiel Elliott finished both with touchdown runs , Prescott made several big throws.
On the winning drive that started with 42 seconds left after the Steelers went ahead, Prescott completed a 13-yarder to Jason Witten one play before another completion to the tight end ended with a facemask penalty that put the Cowboys in field-goal range before Elliott's winning run with 9 seconds remaining.
Dallas trailed most of the game in part because of a lost fumble by Prescott early.
“That's one of the most important parts of that position is to be able to handle the adversity of it,” coach Jason Garrett said. “From series to series, from quarter to quarter, half to half and throughout the ballgame, you've just got to keep banging away.”
Elliott's numbers are getting more attention because he's the NFL rushing leader (1,005 yards) and has a shot at Eric Dickerson's rookie record (1,808 yards in 1983). But Prescott is completing 67 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and two interceptions.
The 23-year-old from Mississippi State — a fourth-round pick after the Cowboys couldn't pull of a trade for Paxton Lynch, who went to Denver in the first round — has road wins over a pair of Super Bowl champions in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger.
And Prescott essentially outdueled Roethlisberger, who threw for 408 yards and executed a fake-spike touchdown pass to put the Steelers ahead in the final minute.
“You see what a veteran quarterback can do,” Jones said. “But you also see what Dak can do. That was a pretty nice little template to look at right there.”
A month ago, the Cowboys figured to have a touchy subject looming. Not now, says Jones.
“There is no fragileness about this, with the team or the coaches,” Jones said. “Dak is earning his way. Tony has earned his way. Both of them can play quarterback well enough to win games.”
And the Cowboys have upgraded the backup job, with Romo replacing Mark Sanchez.
NOTES: Garrett said TE Geoff Swaim will have surgery for a pectoral injury. He is expected to be out for the season. … Garrett said CB Orlando Scandrick should be OK coming out of the concussion protocol.