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Dak Prescott grows up in a hurry in gritty win over Eagles

Throughout most of this past Sunday night’s game, the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense was a thorn in the side of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.

The Eagles slowed down Ezekiel Elliot and the Cowboys’ running game, sent all kinds of elaborate blitzes against Prescott, sacked him twice, and picked him off in the end zone. Prescott misfired on passes and looked like an overwhelmed rookie quarterback.

By the fourth quarter, the Cowboys (6-1) were down 10 points and seemed destined for defeat at the hands of their NFC East rivals. Then, Prescott grew up.

On a night when the Eagles (4-3) seemingly threw the kitchen sink at him, Prescott kept his composure and led the Cowboys to 16 unanswered points in Dallas’ thrilling, 29-23, overtime win at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Prescott’s five-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jason Witten was the triumphant ending to what was a tough football game for the former Mississippi State star. He completed 19-of-39 passes for 287 yards with two touchdown passes. In addition to his passing, Prescott also gained 38 yards on seven carries and one rushing touchdown. His one-yard plunge on a fourth and one deep in Eagles’ territory in overtime might have been the biggest play of the game.

Beyond Prescott’s stats were the heart, determination, and poise that he showed. He didn’t quit on himself or his team. He kept fighting and firing through his mistakes before things turned around. The one thing Prescott didn’t do was to try to force the issue by making bad decisions. He stayed patient and he stayed within himself.

While Prescott’s stats looked good in the end, the Eagles’ defense kept him and Cowboys’ offense out of sync. It was his worst game of the season. Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz dialed up all kinds of pressure to keep the rookie off-balance in ways that other teams around the league haven’t been able to do so far.

Somehow, Prescott survived the onslaught of the Eagles’ defense and in the fourth quarter, he put the Cowboys’ offense on his back and carried them to a huge win against an NFC East rival.

Eagles’ rookie quarterback sensation Carson Wentz and the Birds’ offense kept the Cowboys off the field by methodically moving the ball downfield with the running of Darren Sproles, who gained 86 yards on 15 carries. Wentz completed 32-of-43 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown. What would ultimately kill the Eagles was their inability to keep the football in the fourth quarter and build on their lead when they had Dallas on the ropes, though.

The Cowboys’ defense, while not dominant throughout most of the game, came up with a huge fumble recovery off Eagles’ rookie running back Wendell Smallwood in Philadelphia territory. That opened the door for the Cowboys’ come back. Four plays later, the Cowboys got a 49-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.

On the Cowboys’ next possession, Prescott found his mojo and drove the Cowboys 90 yards in 11 plays on a drive that was capped by his 22-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. With Eagles defenders bearing down on him on every play, he completed 5-of-8 passes 78 yards on that drive.

In the overtime, Prescott looked like the guy who opposing teams had been seeing all season. The first big play on that drive was when he converted a fourth and 1 at the Eagles 28. It was a gutsy call to go for it when the Cowboys could have settled for a field goal.

On the game-winning touchdown pass, Prescott scrambled, reversed his field and then found Witten all alone in the end zone.

For Prescott, it was the perfect ending to an otherwise imperfect day.

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