Thursday Night Football: Dak Prescott is stuck in the Tony Romo vortex with only 1 way out

Two weeks ago, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Dallas' offense scored 34 points. The game ended when Prescott's pass hit receiver Noah Brown in the arms, it popped up and Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins picked it off and returned it for a touchdown.

You might have thought that the next week would have been spent blaming the defense, Brown's drop or even just bad luck in a close game, but no. You heard a lot of national voices wondering if Prescott was a winner and imploring him to step up. It would have been strange if it didn't happen after every Cowboys loss.

This is life as the Cowboys' quarterback. Prescott isn't perfect but he is very good. He's a big reason the Cowboys are 11-4 and going to the playoffs despite the team having to practically give away receiver Amari Cooper in a trade and losing multiple offensive linemen in free agency. When the Cowboys lose — no matter how Prescott plays, really — the next week is spent complaining he's not good enough. Dallas is 60-35 in his starts. People still wonder if he can win.

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The Cowboys face the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. The Titans would kill for a quarterback like Prescott. Everyone in Dallas just seems to like complaining about the one they have.

Dak Prescott is having a good season

It's not like this is unique to Prescott. Tony Romo lived this life already.

No matter how many great games Romo played, it was all forgotten whenever the Cowboys lost. Dallas could put up 48 points with Romo throwing for more than 500 yards, but they'd lose 51-48 and Romo's lone mistake would be the focus, not a defense that gave up 51 points.

It's fairly ridiculous to put 100% of the credit or blame on any win or loss on a quarterback. Football is a team game. That will never change. Life is easier with a good quarterback but he's not solely responsible for a team's fortune. In that Jacksonville game from two weeks ago, Prescott wasn't on the field when Trevor Lawrence was torching Dallas' defense.

It doesn't matter. Since coming back from an injury Prescott has been very good (2,450 yards, 20 touchdowns), though his 12 interceptions are a bit high. He's not an MVP candidate this season. But he's good. The Cowboys are one of the better teams in the NFL, even after many buried them following a rough offseason, and Prescott is a big reason.

And unless Prescott leads the Cowboys to a Super Bowl win, nothing else will count.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has come back strong after having thumb surgery following a Week 1 loss. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has come back strong after having thumb surgery following a Week 1 loss. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Cowboys fans want a playoff run

Dallas fans are rightfully impatient. The Cowboys haven't been past the divisional round of the playoffs since the end of the 1995 season. That's a long drought, especially since the Cowboys have had plenty of competitive teams in that stretch. It's a franchise with five Super Bowl championships and an invested fan base. Expecting a deep playoff run every decade or two isn't outlandish.

Pinning it all on one player does seem a bit odd. Prescott, who is just 29 years old, is about three seasons from becoming the Cowboys' all-time leading passer. With three more passing touchdowns he'll trail only Romo on that Cowboys all-time list. He has the highest passer rating in Cowboys history, among those with more than 100 attempts. He's already had a good career with a lot to come.

If the Cowboys lose Thursday against the Titans (who probably will be sitting some starters, looking ahead to a Week 18 game against the Jaguars that will determine the AFC South title), in the Week 18 finale against the Washington Commanders or definitely in the playoffs, you can predict what will happen next. Prescott will get a majority of the blame. The context of the loss won't be important.

You can already hear the arguments about how the Cowboys can't win with Prescott, because you've been hearing them for years already.

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