With renewed sense of urgency, Dak Prescott is ready for Dallas Cowboys’ postseason

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Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is approaching Sunday’s NFC wild card game against the San Francisco 49ers with a renewed appreciation, a certain amount of expectation and an urgency for the moment.

With six seasons under his belt, and having returned from a serious injury last season, he now knows these opportunities are fleeting and that you cannot take such moments for granted.

“To being able to be back here with such a great team and just knowing the opportunity we have in front of us,” Prescott said. “Not only the talent, but the brotherhood, the relationships and just the special bond that we’ve got. I think that’s going to be the factor that we take into this game that we carry far.”

But as the newly minted franchise quarterback, thanks to a 4-year, $160 million deal last March, he also knows this is no time to stop and smell the roses. He knows that his contract demands success in the postseason.

While is he coming off arguably the finest statistical season in Cowboys history, passing for a team-record 37 touchdowns to lead the Cowboys to a 12-5 record, the legacies of great quarterbacks are defined by what they do in the postseason.

But don’t look for Prescott, who has now reached the playoffs three times and has a postseason career mark of 1-3, to cower to the pressure of the moment. His goals and expectations are higher than what others expect of him.

“I don’t necessarily know why people have labeled the word pressure as such a bad thing honestly,” Prescott said. “I think it creates high expectations and high standards and they usually create high results, so for me it’s just about being who I am, staying true to that, knowing who I am, preparing the same way that I have. Then just going out there and playing the game that I love without any hesitation.”

Running back Ezekiel Elliott, who came into the league with Prescott in 2016, acknowledged all eyes will be on his teammate and best friend this postseason.

“But I wouldn’t go out there with any other quarterback,” he said. “I know how serious he takes his job and he takes that burden. I know he’s going to do everything he needs to between now and Sunday to prepare and be ready to go out there and lead us.”

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has no doubts about his expectations for Prescott in the postseason. “I believe Dak’s going to own the moment,” he said. “He’s going to show y’all what he really is about and he’s going to take this playoffs by storm.”

Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy has been around some of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history in Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. He says Prescott’s leadership and his ability to connect with his teammates are second to none and those are the biggest things he brings to the postseason.

“He asked me the other day, he says, ‘What do you need from me?’ And I said, ‘I need you to keep being exactly how you are’,” McCarthy recalled. “He does a tremendous job of being so consistent in his approach, in his expression of how clear his job responsibility is, not only to the offense but our football team,” he continued. “I think the most important thing is just for him be himself and just don’t try to do too much.”

Prescott admits that his age and experience has left him more appreciative of the journey, now than he did as a rookie. While he has always worked hard, and always given it his all, there does appear to be a greater sense of urgency.

“You don’t come around great teams like we have very often,” Prescott said. “So just make sure we don’t take a play for granted either. Not only in our preparation, but when we get out there as well in the game time. Just leave it all out there.”

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