Dak Prescott's first playoff game in three seasons didn't go according to plan. As leader of the league's top-ranked offense, the sixth-year quarterback only threw for 254 yards with one touchdown and one pick in the Dallas Cowboys' 23-17 wild-card loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. The franchise's Super Bowl drought has now extended to 26 years.
To make matters worse, the Cowboys' titles hopes were officially dashed on a botched play call late in the fourth quarter. With 14 seconds remaining and no timeouts, Prescott ran up the middle of the field for a 17-yard gain and wasn't able to stop the clock with a spike before time expired. Consequently, a last-second, game-tying Hail Mary attempt from the 24-yard line never occurred.
"I was really high on Dak, really high on him when they first drafted him. I was excited about that," Hall of Fame receiver and Cowboys legend Drew Pearson told The Zach Gelb Show on Monday. "Because of what he did at Mississippi State, brought that winning attitude there, I thought he could bring that here. He says all of the right things, but now is the time to put up. And Jerry Jones' window isn't that wide open, at this point. You've got to step up.
"I'm just wavering now with Dak. I saw regression as the season went on -- that's a disappointment at $40 million a year. It's not about the money, it's about that player playing the position and not improving, declining in a year where we started out so well... We almost had the NFC East won in the first seven weeks. Then we started going downhill. A lot of it was on the offensive side of the ball, and a lot of it was predicated by the play of the quarterback."
The fears of Prescott's regular season struggles carrying over into a do-or-die playoff setting were legitimate. From the get-go, the Cowboys were inefficient against the 49ers' aggressive defensive scheme -- Prescott was hit on nearly half of his dropbacks and sacked five times -- and a lack of discipline resulted in 14 penalties for a loss of 89 yards. The notion that Dallas' blowout win over the Philadelphia Eagles' reserves in Week 18 was a tune-up game rang hollow.
Because of Prescott's woes, the Cowboys' skill position stars also failed to be difference makers. Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard rushed for a combined 45 yards on 16 carries, and star receiver CeeDee Lamb was limited to a single catch for 21 yards. Their top three wideouts -- Lamb, Amari Cooper, and Cedrick Wilson -- turned only 12 of 25 combined targets into receptions, and Dallas became just the second 500-point offense in NFL history to exit the playoffs in the wild-card round.
The entire conversation between Pearson and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.