After one of Brett Maher’s missed extra point attempts on Monday night, the ESPN broadcast caught quarterback Dak Prescott slamming his helmet in frustration and mouthing what appeared to be “go for (this is a family place!) two!” which suggests that he, like everyone, was frustrated by the points that the team was missing out on.
After the game, Prescott had a much more measured and non-emotional response where he supported Maher. Still, the outburst by Prescott on the sideline is a rather uncommon thing to see in the middle of a game, especially one that could in any way be taken as something negative towards one of his teammates.
It felt like Prescott’s release was a result of the moment. That isn’t a criticism of him, after all, the result of Monday night and any game to come is going to have life-altering implications on Dak Prescott and his legacy in a way that it won’t for the vast majority of people on the team.
The main point is that it seems like Dak Prescott really wants this.
It is clear that Dak Prescott is unafraid to use his legs in the postseason
Momentum is a tricky thing to quantify if it even exists, but there is certainly something to the pressure associated with playoff games. They are inherently a bigger deal than the regular season.
Maybe you don’t believe that Dak’s show of emotion concerning Maher’s misses indicates a recognition of the moment, but perhaps how often he is using his legs will change your mind. We have reached a point where it is obvious that Dak is much more apt to take matters into his own hands (um, legs) given the stakes that come with the postseason.
The Sounds from the Sideline series that the mothership puts together is always a treat, and this week even showed CeeDee Lamb consoling Brett Maher in an act of true team unity. You should watch the entire thing for yourself, but if you jump to about the 3:45 mark you will see Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell positively yelling about Dak Prescott running near the goal line early in the game.
The moment in question is two plays before Dak scored on the bootleg in Peyton Manning fashion as everybody noted, and on the play Dak can be seen pushing forward and making a big deal about trying to get into the endzone (which he ultimately did as noted). What’s more is that two plays before that, when Tony Pollard got down near the goal line on first down, Dak could be seen doing all he could within the realms of safety to sort of clear a path for Tony Pollard (that play was called back due to penalty anyway).
This is obviously about a bigger point, and it is that Dak Prescott is (in a very good way) playing like this is win or go home, which it is. Notably when Bell and Mukuamu cheered for Dak they shouted it was “Mississippi State Dak” running, indicating he was looking more like who he was in college. They even went as far as to specifically say “that was before the surgery” which seems to be an agreement with the overall idea that Dak has not been as much of a runner since his ankle injury in 2020.
Consider that Dak ran the ball seven times on Monday night, a mark he had not reached since the home win against Washington in 2021. Interestingly, Prescott has seen an uptick in how many times he is carrying the ball over the last few weeks. He recorded 27 carries over the final five games of the season while only having 17 in the six preceding that stretch.
Prescott has had at least one passing and one rushing touchdown in four straight playoff games. Given that he has only played five games in the postseason we are basically talking about his entire playoff career. And while Dak did not have a rushing touchdown in his first playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, he did run in a two-point conversion. That is not the same thing but you get the picture.
Looking at the five-game sample size, and the fact that Dak has run into the endzone in each one of them, you can somewhat draw the conclusion that he is in “do or die” mode. These aren’t 50-yard touchdown runs or the standard goal line plays where he reaches up and breaks the plane, but they are clearly moments where his mobility is called upon and the Cowboys are willing to utilize it given the intensity of the moment.
Dak Prescott rushing touchdowns/conversions in the postseason
- 2-point conversion against Green Bay Packers from the 2-yard line
- 1-yard touchdown run against Seattle Seahawks (where he dove into the endzone)
- 1-yard touchdown run against the Los Angeles Rams
- 5-yard touchdown run against the San Francisco 49ers
- 1-yard touchdown run against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dak is the only player in NFL history to have at least one passing and one rushing touchdown in four straight postseason games, and while the scores are valuable, it is clear that Dak is not afraid to get on the move in the name of a first down. Moving the chains is critical in the playoffs.
Ultimately everybody understands what is on the line this time of year but the fact that we have seen Dak Prescott call upon his mobility when he has gotten a bit away from that (as Markquese Bell and Israel Mukuamu noted) suggests he understands the gravity of the situation. Here’s to that being the case this week as well.