ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott will start against Cleveland after the rookie quarterback looked like Tony Romo in rallying Dallas past Philadelphia in the fourth quarter and overtime for his sixth straight win.
That’s what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the 29-23 victory against the Eagles that put Dallas two games up in the NFC East.
Hold on a minute, though. Jones wasn’t saying Prescott is taking Romo’s job. The owner simply said the Cowboys’ 10-year starter won’t be ready Sunday at Cleveland as he works his way back into shape after breaking a bone in his back in the preseason.
“My opinion is that we would want him to have more strength and work done,” Jones said Sunday night. “He’s really doing well, probably as well as anytime last year as far as aspects of strength in his back is concerned, but he’s got some more to do.”
So the Cowboys (6-1) can continue to delay the question of what happens when Romo is ready. But with Prescott having a good shot at a seventh straight victory against the winless Browns, it’s unlikely that the issue will get any less complicated.
Prescott has won games coming from behind and comfortably leading. He played well in his only loss, by a point to the New York Giants in the opener.
What was impressive about his latest outing was how unimpressive Prescott was most of the game. The 23-year-old bounced multiple throws and tossed an end-zone interception — just his second pick of the season — that ended up putting Dallas behind at halftime.
Yet he found a way to get even with a 22-yard touchdown throw to Dez Bryant late in regulation to cap a 90-yard drive, and led a winning 75-yard march to start the extra period, capped by a 5-yard scoring pass to Jason Witten.
Once again, he showed all the attributes that have had his coaches and teammates raving for weeks.
“I’m not going to stop,” said Prescott, who completed all five passes in overtime to finish 19 of 39 for 287 yards. “I don’t care how bad I play early on. I don’t care what I do. I’m not going to give up.”
Prescott’s mobility is noteworthy as well, particularly with Romo looking less and less mobile as the back injuries (four in less than four years) pile up. The injury in a preseason game at Seattle came when Romo tried to escape the pocket and was tackled awkwardly from behind.
In the win over the Eagles, the Cowboys got their first touchdown on a zone read when Prescott kept and scored untouched from 7 yards. It was his fourth rushing TD, the most for a Dallas quarterback since Danny White had four in 1983. The franchise record for a quarterback is five.
On the tying drive in regulation, Prescott had a 12-yard scramble that was yet another example of a play the 36-year-old Romo likely can’t make anymore.
Or as Jones would put it, he looked like a younger Romo, including on the winning throw to Witten when Prescott spun to his left and created enough confusion for the defense to leave Witten wide open in the end zone.
“All of that reminded me of what we’ve had the luxury with Romo for years and years,” Jones said. “What I did see him do that we’re not used to is tuck that ball in and make some significant gains running the ball. That’s what you get with him.”
What coach Jason Garrett gets is a controversy, regardless of whether he wants to acknowledge it, which he hasn’t.
After Cleveland (0-8), the Cowboys visit Pittsburgh before consecutive home games against Baltimore and Washington. The Redskins visit on Thanksgiving, which will mark a year since Romo’s last game.
That wasn’t a pretty game either. In his second game back from a broken left collarbone, Romo threw three interceptions in the first half, two returned for touchdowns by Carolina. And he broke his left collarbone again in the third quarter of the 33-14 loss.
“We’re a close group of guys,” said rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had a four-game streak of 100-yard games snapped, finishing with 96. “We’re not going to let anything come between us.”
But a test is coming in the form of lots of quarterback talk.
NOTES: Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones said on his radio show that safety Barry Church will miss three to five weeks with a broken arm, and oft-injured cornerback Morris Claiborne is being evaluated from a possible sports hernia that could sideline him long term.
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Rookie Prescott lets Cowboys push Romo question down road – USA TODAY