Of the 10 quarterbacks with the most completed passes in the opening week of a pro football season, only two (Tom Brady with 38 completions in a 25-24 win over the Bills in 2009, and Tony Romo with 36 completions in s 36-31 win over the Giants in 2013) wound up on the winning side of the equation. Generally speaking, when your quarterback throws a ton of passes, it’s because he’s bailing water in a losing effort, and that’s been true even for greats like John Elway, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers.
Dak Prescott added his name to the unfortunate quarterbacks on the losing end on Thursday as his Cowboys took an agonizing 31-29 defeat to the Bucs, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Prescott completed 42 of 58 passes for 403 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. That set the pro football record for completions in a season opener, previously held by Peyton Manning, who completed 40 of 57 passes for 433 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in a 34-24 loss to the Texans on September 12, 2010.
The tone of the game was set for Dallas’ offense right from the start — there was no way they were going to try and run frequently against the NFL’s best defense in that department, especially with defensive tackle Vita Vea demolishing every Cowboys blocker he faced, and Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul picking up backup running back Tony Pollard and making a wish.
Elliott ran the ball 11 times for 33 yards, Prescott ran four times for 13 yards, and Pollard had two carries for three yards. It was going to be all on Prescott’s arm, and he responded to a historic degree.
Pinpoint throws like this touchdown pass to Amari Cooper were the order of the day.
And this 22-yard touchdown pass under pressure to CeeDee Lamb was quite something.
Prescott hit eight different receivers
“Amazing,” Brady said after the game of Prescott’s performance. “That’s what sports are all about. They push us to understand who we are and what our character is out there. He had a long rehab and missed a lot of the preseason. He came out and played one hell of a game. We have a great defense, and they have a lot of good skill players, They played really well tonight, and we obviously have a lot of things to clean up.”
Amazing, indeed, especially considering everything Prescott has been through to get back to this point. Moral victories don’t count, but Prescott can take one after a truly marvelous performance.