Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 6: Dak Prescott kills Cowboys' QB controversy
Prescott proving impossible to bench, Beckham's breakout and more takeaways from Week 6
There is no quarterback controversy in Dallas. Dak Prescott ended it Sunday before it could begin, looking cool as a 10-year veteran under center in a 30-16 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Going up against Aaron Rodgers on Rodgers' home field, where he typically plays as well as any quarterback in the NFL, Prescott was better. By a mile.
He threw his first interception of the season, but he was largely cool and poised, going 18 for 27 for 247 yards and three touchdowns. The short version: He went into an impossible place to play, beat the former best quarterback in football without his top weapon ( Dez Bryant ), outplayed Rodgers and should have done just about everything to put any discussion of Tony Romo taking back the reigns to bed.
Dak iced the game with this touchdown to Cole Beasley :
And this might very well be the best throw of Dak's career:
He is 100 percent legit and does not get ruffled regardless of the circumstances. He broke Tom Brady 's record for most passes without an interception to start a career (162) and stretched his own record out to 173 before throwing a pick.
It feels like hyperbole, but there is very much some 2001 New England Patriots mojo going on with the Dallas Cowboys offense. The offensive line looks better than it did in 2014, giving Prescott time to operate and opening up huge holes in the running game. Ezekiel Elliott looks like an absolute animal out there. Zeke now has the second-most rushing yards in a player's first six games in NFL history, topping Adrian Peterson 's start and trailing only Eric Dickerson.
This is not to say the Cowboys can't ever go back to Romo under center. He's still very much in play for Dallas. He's the apple of Jerry Jones' eye and it's hard to imagine them just casting him to the side, particularly when Romo will have a massive cap hold for the Cowboys next year too, regardless of where he plays or he gets on a roster.
But Jones admitted after the game he's coming around on the idea of rolling with Prescott moving forward, telling NBC Dallas Prescott's play puts Dallas in an interesting place.
"Dak Prescott is making this Wizard of Oz. He's giving us options that as we go on into the season, we watch him play, we watch him evolve," Jones said. "We know what Tony Romo can do for us. We know we're going to have the ability to see Tony Romo get as healthy as he can possibly get. And at the same time look way into the future with a Dak Prescott. And maybe we don't have to look that far, we can look after the bye week. All of that's a good problem to have.
"I can tell you as somebody that has years and years and years, in my 27 in the NFL, without a quarterback. To sit here and be asked if it's some some sort of issue or dilemma to have two of them staring you in the face, I've said it, is a light miracle."
There's a line in there that makes more sense than anything Jones has ever said. The Cowboys have a shot to see Tony Romo get as healthy as he can possibly get. It's the answer to the question about whether Dallas will stick with Prescott or just throw Romo back in whenever he's able to return.
Instead of tossing Romo under center as soon as he's clear, the Cowboys can let Prescott keep playing and potentially keep winning. Dallas is 5-1, has a bye in Week 7 and then gets the Philadelphia Eagles , Cleveland Browns , Pittsburgh Steelers , Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins . Nothing is free in the NFL, but that's a soft schedule with winnable games regardless of who's playing. Five wins puts the Cowboys in a perfect spot to win three or four of those and be set for the playoffs.
Other happenings from around the NFL in Week 6 ...
1. OBJ's big day
New York Giants superstar receiver Odell Beckham had struggled on a couple of levels over the past several weeks, not only struggling to produce big numbers on the field but creating plenty of controversy with his sideline antics. He needed a big day, and he delivered in a big way against the Ravens.
Beckham finished with 222 yards on eight catches and a pair of touchdowns, including a 66-yard score to give the Giants the lead for good.
And this 75-yard score:
Beckham's performance gives him 10 games with 140 receiving yards or more in his career, the most ever for a player in his first three seasons.
It was particularly impressive because Beckham battled back from a hip injury in the middle of the game and finished the first half with just 11 receiving yards. Maybe he got inspired by seeing the love of his life on the sideline.
Beckham's relationship with the team's kicking net has evolved mightily. At first he got in a big fight with the net against the Redskins while throwing a hissy fit on the sideline. Then last week he made up with the net, running over and hugging it after scoring his first touchdown of the season.
On Sunday he really took the relationship to another level, going down on one knee and proposing to the net.
True romance. It's weird and strange and it probably qualifies as a distraction. But if Beckham is going to score multiple times and keep putting up big numbers, he can date whatever inanimate object he wants.
2. Pass interference in Seattle
The good news for the Atlanta Falcons is they're a really good football team. The bad news is they had to lose to prove it. And they lost in a bad way, too, as there was a pretty obvious pass interference penalty on the final play of the game that went completely uncalled.
With Julio Jones going up for a fourth-down reception, he got mugged by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman , unable to get his right arm up in the air in order to try and make a catch.
No flag came out, and the Seattle Seahawks won the game.
"It was a missed call," Jones said after the game. "But it's over with; it's done. We'll move on."
The outcome was interesting, because Jones won the matchup against Sherman. In theory anyway -- he caught seven passes for 139 yards and a score. Jones' damage was done away from Sherman though, as Pro Football Focus charted him with three catches for 40 yards on five targets when Sherman was in coverage on him.
Jones also had a flub on a ball with less than five minutes left, popping it up into the air and letting the Seahawks intercept it. Throwing there was an aggressive play call, but it wasn't a bad move. And it's proof that Atlanta didn't lose the game because of the final non-call on the pass interference.
But it does sting that NFL officials are reticent to throw flags on fourth down at the end of the game. They don't want to be the ones to decide how a game plays out, but you can't just ignore what defenders are doing because it's late in the game and a critical moment.
It would be nice to see the league make PI reviewable too, but that's also a pretty huge nightmare in terms of how subjective it is. There should have been a flag thrown is the bottom line, but it doesn't really matter for the Seahawks now.
For Atlanta, they can be mad about losing the game, but have to feel good about going on a two-week road trip to Denver and Seattle and nearly coming out of it 2-0.
3. Say goodnight to Carolina
The hangover is real for the Carolina Panthers . It's not just a bleary-eyed headache first thing in the morning either. It's noon Sunday and they're still in the bathroom vomiting.
The Panthers fell to 1-5 thanks to a l0ss to the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, and it remains unclear whether they are actually a good football team. Cam Newton led them back from a 21-point deficit, giving them some life and leading people to believe the Panthers might be back.
Any hope was fleeting, because once again the Panthers defense couldn't stop anyone. They were lit up by Jacquizz Rodgers on Monday night, and it shouldn't have been surprising they couldn't stop Drew Brees and company late.
The secondary is a dumpster fire right now, and they can't stop anyone remotely explosive.
Making matters worse was Newton's petulant press conference after the game, in which he refused to really answer questions, said "next question" multiple times and abruptly left the room.
The Panthers can recover from this start, but they're in a legitimately bad spot here. A 1-5 record is one thing, but they're 0-3 in the division and Atlanta looks legitimate. The only good news is the NFC doesn't look as loaded as it has in the past few years.
4. Football is weird
Sunday was a perfect example of the weird stuff that happens in the NFL, particularly with touchdowns.
We got to see:
- Case Keenum rush a touchdown.
- Coby Fleener rush for a touchdown!
- This sweet, sweet large man touchdown involving Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe that should've been a catch but only counts as a rush because it was a lateral.
5. Loss of Lane
The Eagles are coming off their second loss of the season, and it's not hard to imagine them struggling a little bit moving forward. The primary reason? The loss of Lane Johnson .
Their starting right tackle was handed a 10-game suspension this past week, meaning he'll be out of the lineup until Week 16. The early indicator -- Sunday's loss to the Redskins -- saw rookie quarterback Carson Wentz get hit early and often with Halapoulivaati Vaitai adjusting to life as a starter.
On the first offensive play of the game, Wentz was sacked by Will Blackmon and Ryan Kerrigan . Four plays later he was sacked again. The Eagles did a nice job of adjusting, giving up just one more first-half sack, but Wentz was getting pressured significantly.
The Eagles' final two offensive snaps before punting the ball away on their last drive were sacks as well, as the offensive line simply couldn't hold up late. PFF credited Vaitai with giving up two of the sacks and allowing five pressures total on Wentz.
It's early to peg this as a season-changing problem, but the reality is Philly lost two games in a row and now has the Minnesota Vikings and then two away divisional games against the Cowboys and Giants.
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