Cowboys QB Dak Prescott Admits the Playoff Loss to the 49ers Will Follow Him the Rest of His NFL Career: ‘It’s a Tough One to Swallow’

The Dallas Cowboys looked impressive in the 2021 regular season, finishing with a 12-5 record. Dak Prescott and company secured the NFC East crown and went into the NFL playoffs with momentum and high expectations. Unfortunately for Mike McCarthy’s squad, the San Francisco 49ers’ momentum was even stronger.

Dallas squandered away a prime opportunity to make a deep run, which will stick with the entire team until at least the 2022 season. The loss was especially hard on Prescott. The sixth-year quarterback suggests he won’t be getting over this one anytime soon.

Dak Prescott says the Wild Card Round loss to the 49ers haunts him

The Cowboys entered the Wild Card Round matchup as the No. 3 seed and favorite against the six-seeded 49ers. It was a perfect scenario for sports media having “America’s Team” back in a prominent position. However, the regular-season success wasn’t sustainable in the postseason.

Dallas came out flat, and San Francisco smacked the Cowboys in the mouth early and made them pay. The NFC East champs tried to make a fourth-quarter comeback but faltered under the pressure of the waning moments.

Poor game management doomed the Cowboys down the stretch in that game. Dak Prescott believes the Niners loss could haunt him for a long time. In a recent appearance on The Rich Eisen Show, Eisen asked the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback how often he thinks about the game.

“Nonstop, honestly,” said Prescott. “Multiple times a day. It’s tough. Just expecting to go so much further, to have your season be a lot more than it was. For it to end so sudden, especially in the way that it did, it’s a tough one to swallow.”

Prescott also suggested that the loss will sting for a while, and he may never get over it.

“There are certain moments and games that I think will stick with players or people for a long time in their career, and I think this game was one of them. This was a team, and we had everything. We thought we were heading in the right direction to do what we needed to do to go get a win, and we didn’t.”

The Cowboys failed to live up to expectations in the postseason

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott walks off the field after losing to the 49ers
Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card Round | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Failing to live up to expectations has been a common theme for the Dallas Cowboys over the past two decades. The franchise has had several talented teams that should’ve done more. The 2021 team certainly fits the bill.

The team was coming off a disappointing 6-10 finish in 2020. Dak Prescott suffered a devastating ankle injury, which knocked him out for the season. Dallas never recovered and struggled the rest of the way. The Mississippi State product’s 2021 return provided a much-needed spark.

The Cowboys looked dramatically improved in the 2021 season. Prescott’s presence allowed Kellen Moore to post the NFL‘s No. 1 offense.

New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn helped transform the defense. Dallas was a bottom-of-the-barrel unit in 2020 but ended in the top 10 one year later. The emergence of Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons played major roles in the turnaround.

With talent all over the field on both sides of the ball, Mike McCarthy’s squad looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender at times. However, the Cowboys laid a massive egg in the playoff loss to the 49ers. That early exit falls on the coaching staff and the players. There’s enough blame to go around.

Can Prescott and company redeem themselves in 2022?

Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys will have some important decisions to make in the offseason. However, the roster has enough pieces in place to contend again in 2022.

Dak Prescott seemed to put the ankle injury behind him. If not for Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Prescott would’ve won the Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Most of Dallas’ offensive weapons should be returning. However, the Cowboys could lose either Michael Gallup or Amari Cooper at wide receiver. Still, Prescott and company should field one of the more potent offenses in the league.

Defensively, Dallas should only get better in 2022. Trevon Diggs and Micah Parsons emerged as future stars of this league. Both are raw talents who should continue developing in the coming years. The front office must build around those two to have a top-10 defense again.

The Cowboys retained their entire coaching staff. Coordinators Dan Quinn and Kellen Moore were potential candidates for head coaching vacancies, but both will return to Dallas. Keeping Mike McCarthy on board was an interesting decision, but time will tell if the move comes back to bite Dallas. The head coach has made it hard to trust him, but it’s not all on his shoulders.

It doesn’t matter how talented the Cowboys are if they can’t win the big games. They must adjust heading into the new season, or it’ll be another year of disappointment.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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