Forty seconds; that is not much time for most of us, but on Sunday it was more than enough time for Dak Prescott to lead his teammates down the field to secure an eighth consecutive win for the Dallas Cowboys.
“Forty seconds is a lot of time, especially with three timeouts. That’s really all I was thinking about, just saying over and over ‘We do this in practice every Thursday’” - Dak Prescott
The Cowboys quarterback makes the last minute effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers sound like it was a piece of cake. Naturally, a lot of effort goes into making a last minute drive look easy. Many hours of practice are tied up in running a series like the one where Prescott went 3 for 4 and set up his fellow rookie for a final score.
On a first and 10 at their own 25, Prescott dropped back to pass but was immediately under pressure from a Steeler lineman. He dumped one low to Jason Witten, who let it fall incomplete to save time. The play was going nowhere.
On second and 10, Prescott found Cole Beasley for 10 yards and a first down.
On first and 10, Prescott hit Witten for 13 yards.
On the next play he went back to Witten for five yards and a facemasking penalty gave Dallas another 15 yards.
At this point it looked like the Cowboys would just hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliott to set up the Dan Bailey attempt at a game-winning field goal. Of course, Elliot burst through the defense for the game-winning touchdown.
Preparation for a moment like this begins early in a career, even before a passer begins setting records during college. Being cool under pressure comes first and then begins the process of learning how to be effective at the same time you are being cool. You have to develop leadership skills to succeed in a position such as the one that Dak found himself in. To lead a last-minute drive it is necessary to have the unquestioned trust and confidence of the other ten men in the huddle.
Prescott has that. The Cowboys believe in him. They trust him to know what needs to be done, to make the right decisions, and find a way to pull it all together. Until this season it was only Tony Romo that inspired that kind of faith in the Dallas offense. By the way the team responded under his leadership during the game-winning drive makes it obvious that the team shared Prescott’s belief that forty seconds was a lot of time.