Harry How/Getty Images
Quarterback Dak Prescott stressed the importance of the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-17 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Monday night.
Prescott told reporters it was a “must-win” game and made it easier for the Cowboys to move past last week’s blowout:
“S–t yeah, it was a must-win. I mean, it’s early in the season, but 3-3, 4-2, it’s a huge difference. Yeah, it just is. … 4-2, second road win of the year against a great team, against a great offense, a great defense, going into the bye week, yeah. … I mean we talked last week about not allowing this thing to landslide, and I just think a win like that allows you to really close that book.
“Obviously we closed that book this week preparing for this game … but when you get this one like you did, you definitely can move on.”
By virtue of Monday’s win, the Cowboys moved to 4-2 on the season, putting them just one game behind the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles at 5-1.
After beating the New York Giants and New York Jets by a combined score of 70-10 over the first two weeks of the season, the Cowboys lost two of their next three games, including a shocking 28-16 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, who are now 1-5 on the year.
The 49ers loss was arguably even more demoralizing since the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs by San Francisco in each of the previous two seasons.
Dallas was bested by the Niners in every way last week, as San Francisco won the total yardage battle 421-197 and the turnover margin 4-1 in what was a complete drubbing.
Entering Monday night’s contest, the Cowboys were only 1-2 on the road this season, but they proved that they are capable of taking down a talented team away from home.
Perhaps most impressively, the Cowboys came through in clutch moments, as they went up 17-10 early in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Prescott to Brandin Cooks and later shook off L.A. tying the game by taking the lead again on a 39-yard field goal by Brandon Aubrey with 2:19 left.
That could have been more than enough time for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert to march down the field and tie or win the game, but the defense stiffened and veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore intercepted Herbert to clinch the win.
Nobody took the brunt of the criticism for the San Francisco loss more than Prescott, and it was perhaps warranted since he turned in one of the worst performances of his career.
In that game, Prescott completed only 14 of his 24 passing attempts for 153 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.
He was considerably better Monday night, going 21-of-30 for 272 yards with one touchdown and no picks, while also rushing for 40 yards on seven carries, including an 18-yard touchdown scamper.
Prescott played mistake-free football, whereas a big miscue from Herbert on the final drive sealed the Chargers’ fate.
At 4-2, only the 49ers, Eagles and Detroit Lions have a better record than the Cowboys in the NFC, which bodes well for their playoff prospects moving forward.
They will get some extra time to enjoy Monday’s win, as they are on the bye next week before returning to host the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 29.