Prescott threw five touchdown passes against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18, with the fifth vaulting him ahead of Romo for the most regular-season touchdown passes thrown in franchise history, 37.
After Dallas’ loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Super Wild Card Weekend, Prescott once again finds himself in the conversation with Romo.
This conversation is not a fun one, though. There’s not much to celebrate
Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys crumbled under pressure
Week 18 could have been a coronation moment for Prescott. Being on top of the mountain looking down at names like Romo, Roger Staubach, and Troy Aikman is no small deal. Dallas has a rich history at quarterback, and Prescott etched his name among the greats with that 37th touchdown pass.
The 51-26 win over the Eagles should have served as a playoff tune-up for Prescott and the Cowboys. The expectations were nothing but a run to the Super Bowl, and it looked like the Cowboys had the team to do it, with the league’s top offense and a defense that could easily cause two-to-three takeaways a game.
By now, you know what happened with those expectations and just how hard the Cowboys collapsed under the weight of them.
They lost to the 49ers at home, 23-17, and all that hope and potential didn’t even make it past the Wild Card Round.
“Extraordinarily disappointed,” owner Jerry Jones said of the loss, according to NBC Sports. “Very disappointed. Disappointed for our fans. This is quite a letdown.”
Speaking of letdowns, Prescott had a so-so showing in his first playoff game since 2018.
He completed just 23-of-43 passes for 254 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His QBR was a sub-average 27.
Prescott and Tony Romo now have the same playoff record
Making the loss sting even more for Jones has to be the fact that these letdowns have become commonplace for Dallas.
Going back to when Romo took over as the starter, the Cowboys are 2-6 in playoff games.
With the loss to San Francisco, Prescott’s playoff record over his first six years as the starter in Dallas is 1-3. It has to be frustrating for Jones to look in the record books and see that Romo had the same 1-3 record in the postseason over his first six seasons as the starter.
This has been an extremely average run for supposedly the most prestigious brand in football, if not sports in general.
Prescott has thrown six touchdowns compared to three interceptions in the playoffs. He has an average completion percentage of 60.96% and an average quarterback rating of 87.9.
Romo started his postseason career 1-3 with Dallas and finished it 2-4 overall. He threw eight touchdowns compared to two interceptions in his six playoff games, with an average completion percentage of 61.62% and an average quarterback rating of 93.
The Cowboys have a culture of underperforming
Jerry Jones is not one to be shy about spending money and he’s not shy about his expectations for that money either. He wants to win a Super Bowl. He wants to win multiple Super Bowls.
Credit to him, he’s done everything he can to build what looks like a contender on paper. Offensively, Prescott has all the talent in the world around him. CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Ezekiel Elliott are three of the best offensive players in the league when healthy. Tight end Dalton Schultz has also become of the premier players at his position. He caught 104 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns for Dallas and was one of the only bright spots in the playoff loss, catching seven-of-eight targets for 89 yards (12.7 yards per catch).
Defensively, Jones and the Cowboys hit a home run by drafting Micah Parsons at No. 12 overall. He’s become a superstar as a rookie and will be the face of the franchise for years moving forward. Speaking of superstars, the Cowboys have another one on defense, cornerback Trevon Diggs. He intercepted 11 passes this past season and proved to be one of the most dynamic defensive players in the league.
The Cowboys have some nice pieces in place, but they also have a ton of question marks. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore are getting head coaching opportunities, and one or both are likely to be gone by the time the draft rolls around.
Dallas also has key free agency decisions to sort out. Schultz highlights a free agency class that includes Leighton Vander Esch, Jayron Kearse, Randy Gregory, Michael Gallup, Cedrick Wilson, and Keanu Neal, among others.
Jones is going to have a lot of decisions to make about the future of his franchise, but at the center of it all is the question of culture.
No matter how much he pays and no matter how talented the team is, why do the Cowboys continue to falter under high expectations?
From Romo to Prescott. From Jason Garrett to Mike McCarthy. It’s been a problem in Dallas since the Cowboys’ last Super Bowl win in January of 1996.
If there was a priority list for Jones this offseason, solving the culture of underachieving would be No. 1 with a bullet.