© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

And there it was. The Dallas Cowboys were in enemy territory exchanging haymakers with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots -- piloted by first-round pick Mac Jones -- and it came down to one question and one question only: does Dak Prescott belong in the NFL MVP conversation? After helping to force overtime at Gillette Stadium by way of putting kicker Greg Zuerlein in position to exorcise his previous miss, Prescott marched the Cowboys down the field and standing on the Patriots 35-yard line, he noticed something prior to delivering what would be the final haymaker of a back-alley brawl.

He noticed the Patriots were in formation to sell out for running back Ezekiel Elliott on first-and-10, so he and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore instead dialed up a deep crossing route for CeeDee Lamb, on a play that also sent tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz into underneath flats as decoys to keep give Lamb space over the top.

Snap. Rollout. Throw. Touchdown. Ballgame. Goodbye wave.

Answer key: Dak Prescott deserves to be in the NFL MVP conversation.

"Yeah, I think today just showed our resiliency time and time again," said Prescott in his post-game press conference. 

That resiliency was prevalent in all three phases of the game for the Cowboys. 

From Zuerlein making up for a missed kick by making the next one to tie the game toward the end of regulation, to the defense stopping Jones and Co. in overtime after negating Trevon Diggs' second pick-six of the season by allowing a 75-yard touchdown immediately thereafter, to Prescott and the offense pushing through brutal penalties called against left guard Connor Williams in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, to Lamb shaking off a drop or two earlier in the game to finish with a monstrous 149 receiving yards and two touchdowns that included the aforementioned knockout punch in overtime.

Prescott also had to overcome an interception in the red zone to start the second quarter and a fumble later in that same session, but a sack fumble by Randy Gregory put the ball back in the hands of the Cowboys offense following the latter, yet another example of how Dallas found ways to delete mistakes on Sunday; and overcoming the added adversity of several controversial officiating calls and non-calls.

"Defense making plays -- obviously they came out their first two series and got some touchdowns and for them to dig in, really step up and make plays," added Prescott. "For the defense to get an interception return in a moment where you need it, for the offense to bite itself in the butt all game long, my turnovers down in the red zone, missing out on points, but just to have the chance to tie the game, to have the chance to win the game, and we were able to do that. I think it just speaks to the resiliency of this bunch and this that team and the bond we've created. We're not going to give up. 

"All we need is a chance, and I think that that showed tonight."

The victory was nearly overshadowed by concern though, when Prescott was seen limping after the final play of the game and being helped to the locker room by Elliott. He'd walk onto the podium wearing a boot on his right leg, after suffering what's been described as a right calf strain by the Cowboys. Wearing a huge smile, however, Prescott says he isn't concerned whatsoever about the issue, and particularly with the Cowboys having a bye this week.

"I figured when we weren't playing for a week, so I would give you guys something to talk about and speculate on this time," said Prescott, playfully. "So there you go. ... Yeah the last throw, just came down funny. That's what it was. It will be checked out. 

"I'll be fine, I can promise you that. Great time to be going into the bye week. As I said, you all can have fun with it this week."

The two-time Pro Bowler is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday but sources tell CBS Sports there isn't any panic surrounding the possible outcome. Prescott himself hinted at this by making it clear he could've stayed in the game if the play to Lamb wasn't the finishing move.

"It was a little pain, but, no, for sure I would've been able to keep going," he said. "Obviously, the adrenaline would've been up and may not have even felt it at the time. I think the time you relax you're like, 'Oh, there it is.' ... But as I said, it was something we'll check out and I could have kept playing if I had to, and I'll be fine."

The Cowboys don't play again until they meet the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 31, giving Prescott plenty of time to rest his calf. Much like the Week 6 fight against Belichick and the Patriots, Prescott sees the game as a microcosm of what he's had to overcome his entire life: adversity.

"Life keeps throwing punches, and I'm going to keep throwing them back," he said. "Yeah, it's part of it. It's a physical game. As I said, I'll be fine. I've got a lot of confidence in myself and the medical team, and as I said I feel good. This [boot] is a precaution. But, yeah, just more so thinking about the touchdown. Didn't hurt as bad when you score and win the game. All that is a plus. Credit to CeeDee [Lamb] right there and just the play call just for us to get in that moment, and to be able to go score and capitalize on that, and great call by Kellen [Moore]."

Now sitting at 5-1 thanks to a five-game win streak and owners a three-game lead atop the NFC East, and with reinforcements coming on both offense and defense after the bye week, are the 2021 Cowboys currently making good on Prescott's promise in June that this would be a "very, very special year", or his promise in May that they'd "light up the league" this season?

"We know we're for real," said Prescott. "I don't think we're out here trying to send a message to anybody, more so than we're showing it to ourselves. Just holding each other accountable to our standards and expectations. That's what we're going to continue to do as a team, offensive as a unit, defense as a unit, special teams as a unit. 

"All together -- coaches down to the players, we have high expectations and understandings we live by, practice by, play by. That's all it's about, is coming out here every day and proving it to one another."