He may not admit it, but Dak Prescott entered Sunday’s game at Seattle intent on proving he’s every bit as good — and worth just as much — as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
He almost did it.
Prescott threw for a career-high 472 yards and three touchdowns, but when the pressure intensified for both teams in the game’s waning minutes, it was Wilson who flourished — and Prescott who floundered — in a 38-31 victory for the Seahawks.
Prescott’s contract situation will be one of the key themes of the Cowboys’ 2020 campaign, as he essentially “bet on himself” last spring when he reportedly turned down a five-year extension worth more than $30 million per year.
Now in his fifth season as a starter, Prescott is believed to be seeking a contract similar to the four-year, $140 million deal that Seattle awarded Wilson in April of 2019.
In a head-to-head battle against Wilson, Prescott blew two fourth-quarter opportunities to prove he was deserving of it.
The first opportunity came with 9 minutes, 54 seconds remaining and the Cowboys trailing 30-28. Prescott drove his team 70 yards to the Seahawks 24 yard line. But he threw incomplete passes on second and third down, and the Cowboys had to settle for a 42-yard field goal that put them ahead 31-30 with 3:59 left.
As expected, Wilson responded by leading Seattle on an eight-play, 75-yard scoring march that ended with his 29-yard touchdown pass to DK Metcalf. The drive, which was punctuated with a two-point conversion pass from Wilson, took just 2:12 off the clock.
With 1:47 remaining, Prescott and the Cowboys had plenty of time to tie the game.
But it didn’t happen.
Prescott guided the Cowboys to the Seattle 22, but then threw an incomplete pass on first down and was sacked on second down. But on the next play, after eluding pressure, Prescott heaved an ill-advised pass into the end zone that was intercepted.
Wilson would’ve never thrown that pass.
And that, more than anything, is the difference between the two quarterbacks right now. Wilson thrived in the moment Sunday. Prescott did not.
“I’m never going to shy away from the moment of having the ball in my hands, having a chance to win the game,” Prescott told reporters after Sunday’s game. “I want to make those throws. We’ll have some tough practices, pay attention to the details, and we’ll change this thing around. We’ve got a long way to go.”
Few people will dispute that Prescott is one of the top signal-callers in the NFL. He most certainly is. Even with two interceptions and a lost fumble, Prescott played at an elite level for most of the game Sunday, when he became the first quarterback in franchise history to post 400-plus-yard performances in back-to-back weeks.
Still, coming from behind to beat an 0-3 Atlanta Falcons team is different than a heroic road performance in Seattle, where Prescott came up just short. And remember, Wilson has taken the Seahawks to two Super Bowls, winning one. Even with all of his gaudy stats, Prescott hasn’t led Dallas past the second round of the playoffs.
It certainly isn’t fair to suggest that Prescott needs to win every head-to-head matchup against an elite quarterback such as Wilson, But he definitely needs victories in a few of them to justify the contract he’s seeking. In order to be paid like the best, Prescott needs to prove he can beat the best.
At least every now and then.