The Cowboys offense stumbled all over itself for almost the entirety of Sunday night's opener against the Buccaneers, even with Dak Prescott at quarterback. But not even Prescott could survive the evening working alongside replacement blockers and receivers, exiting Dallas' 19-3 loss with about six minutes left after taking several hits to his throwing hand. Not only did Prescott not return, with backup Cooper Rush finishing the game under center, but he won't be available for additional games. Team owner Jerry Jones told reporters afterward that Prescott will require surgery for a hand fracture and miss multiple weeks.
The QB's hand made contact with Bucs defenders on multiple plays in the second half, including on a follow-through that hit pass rusher Shaq Barrett. He was evaluated by team physician Dan Cooper, per ProFootballTalk, before leaving for the training room, where he underwent X-rays. Officially, per Jerry Jones, the injury occurred above the thumb and behind the joint of Prescott's throwing hand.
"I thought it was a jammed finger," Prescott told reporters after the game, "but I couldn't grip the ball. … I was told it was (a) much cleaner (break) than it could've been. ... Obviously it's not what you wanna hear. It's not the worst thing that's happened to me. It's just another bump in the road, and I will keep moving forward. ... Let's not panic. It's one game."
Prescott came into Sunday's Week 1 matchup fresh off the injury report after hurting his ankle earlier in the week, and his late-game departure came a year after his noted return from both ankle and shoulder injuries ahead of the 2021 season.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy talked early this offseason about utilizing Prescott's legs more in 2022, with the QB finally healthy, but it turns out the Pro Bowler wasn't even able to establish a passing rhythm against Tampa Bay. Behind a makeshift line featuring rookie Tyler Smith at left tackle, he was sacked twice, hit plenty more and finished just 14 of 29 throwing before his exit.
Prior to the injury, CBS Sports research analyst Stephen Oh had the Cowboys making the playoffs in 55.9% of simulations and won the NFC East 28.9% of the time. If he his forced to missed significant time through Dallas' Week 9 bye and returns in Week 10, the Cowboys chances drop rather significantly. Under that scenario, they make the playoffs just 35.5% of the time and win the division in just 14.8% of sims, a -20.4% and -14.1% difference respectfully.
Again, a actual return timeline will become clear in the coming days, but this is a massive speed bump for Dallas as they begin the 2022 season.