After the Dallas Cowboys lost to the New York Giants on Dec. 14, there was some talk in the national media that it was time to replace rookie quarterback Dak Prescott with veteran Tony Romo.
Prescott, a former Haughton star, answered the critics Sunday night, completing 32 of 36 passes for 279 yards with no interceptions in a 26-21 victory over Tamp Bay in Arlington, Texas.
He didn’t throw a touchdown pass or an interception, but he did score on a 2-yard run in the second quarter that gave the Cowboys a 17-3 lead.
“I don’t pay attention to the noise,” Prescott said in his postgame press conference. “I couldn’t tell you much of what was said all week. I kind of found out about some of it later in the week. That really doesn’t bother me.
“If anything it’s motivation. I just wanted to come back and perform after the game last week. That’s the only thing in my mind – to respond to last week. ‘He said, she said’ doesn’t affect me.’ ”
The Bucs (8-6) rallied and took a 20-17 lead with 4:12 left in the third quarter.
The Cowboys (12-2) answered with three Dan Bailey field goals in the fourth quarter.
The final one, a 33-yarder, capped an eight-play, 81-yard drive that started at the Dallas 4.
Prescott completed a 19-yard pass to Dez Bryant to the Cowboys 24. Rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who rushed for a season-high 159 yards, had a 42-yard run.
For the season, Prescott has completed 292 of 431 passes for 3,418 yards and 20 touchdowns with four interceptions.
His quarterback rating of 103.2 ranks third in the NFL behind Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.
Bryant has been one of Prescott’s biggest supporters.
“We lost one game, and we was 11-2. Come one, man,” he said in his postgame remarks. “This guy put us in this position, and you just get to talking crazy. We have one bad game. It’s crazy. This is why everybody gets blocked out. We’ve got to stick together, we’ve got to just focus on ourselves and keep pushing and not paying attention to the noise.”
The Cowboys host the NFL North leader Detroit Lions (9-5) at 7:30 Monday night at AT&T Stadium (ESPN).
— Russell Hedges, email@example.com