Inside Dak Prescott’s conversation with Jerry Jones, which fueled the biggest win – and possibly the best performance – of his career

Tampa, Florida. – Jerry Jones found Dak Prescott before kickoff.

The Dallas Cowboys owner has learned that the quarterback has thrown a league-leading 15 interceptions this season, and seven games have passed since his last turnover-free performance.

Prescott had debated risk-versus-reward decision making during the week, as he prepared for his fourth-ever playoff game and easily the biggest stakes game of his career.

An opportunity to seize a 30-year drought down the road. A chance to finally resist Tom Brady’s infamous comeback.

The cowboy philosophy was clear: Take what defense gives us. I play smart. Do not insist on tournaments in every game.

but also? Not only did Jones make the Cowboys into the most valuable franchise in sports, according to Forbes, by playing safety. So he didn’t want Prescott Journalism – But he wanted a quarterback trust.

I spoke to him before the game, and all I said was: absolutely don’t Not Take risks,” Jones said at 12:21 a.m. ET Tuesday, enthused by his team’s 31-14 wild card victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “Be aggressive.”

“There was no doubt before this game, Duck had to win it for us… Let’s get out here and go and make the difference. He did. He was. It was notice to everyone—his teammates, including him.”

Because in the biggest game of Dak Prescott’s career, he also played at his best.

“The Statement Game” by Duck Prescott

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones implored the franchise quarterback to have faith in himself and his team.  That's exactly what Dak Prescott did in a 31-14 win over Tampa Bay in Monday's game.  (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones implored the franchise quarterback to have faith in himself and his team. That’s exactly what Dak Prescott did in a 31-14 win over Tampa Bay in Monday’s game. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The first two engines invoked Cowboys fans’ nightmares. Two out of three and symbolic. Three incomplete states to start the game.

Can Prescott rise to the occasion under the bright lights?

“Hey, we’re out first, this thing’s going to roll,” Prescott said afterward. “And that’s exactly what happened.”

Prescott completed his next 11 passing attempts to pass the Cowboys postseason record for most consecutive attempts without a fall.

And before long, he wouldn’t rebound to a 25-of-33 night for 305 yards. Prescott will also throw four touchdowns for three different targets, while rushing for a fifth hit on one of his seven carries.

With 6:28 to play in the first quarter, Prescott pulled back and fired airborne tight end Dalton Schultz into the traffic for a 22-yard touchdown. After a quarter of an hour, Prescott rode the momentum of Cowboys’ end zone safety Jayron Kearse to Brady, Prescott faked a handoff to fellow 2016 draftee Ezekiel Elliott before rolling left and racing in his third career postseason run through the ground.

“The call of play fooled the defense,” Prescott said of the pass option. “I could have thrown it to Schultz. He already had one, so I kept it.”

Before halftime, Dallas scored again – this time, courtesy of Prescott’s feet And Its narrow end marked with excellence.

The Cowboys marched 85 yards in 3 minutes, and Prescott kept the drive with an 11-yard dive on third-and-6. So when his pocket started to fall apart, Prescott rolled back to his left. He approached the sideline when he squared his body at Schultz and poked a needle into the remaining 11 yards.

This was the scramble that Coach Mike McCarthy had encouraged so hard all week. This was the situational football that the coaches played consistently throughout the season and even more so, to each player in the locker room after the game, during the bonus day of preparations leading up to the Monday night contest.

Prescott remained composed as the pirates’ defenders rallied. Schultz kept the play alive, giving Prescott a subtle finger point toward the area where he planned to exploit the coverage. This confirms: they were reading the defense itself. The Cowboys led 18-0 at halftime, despite uncharacteristic kicker Brett Maher missing three, and eventually four, extra point attempts.

ESPN cameras caught an angry Prescott slamming his helmet into the sideline and turf and apparently shouting, “Go two.”

Prescott said he personally spoke with Maher afterward, telling his player to “let it go.”

“I’m a big fan of ‘Money’ Maher,” Prescott said. “We’re going to need him. I just played like s*** a week ago. that happens. When you believe in each other, we believe in what we can do, knowing what this guy has done, the resilience he’s shown throughout his career, personally I have no doubt he’ll be back next week, be perfect and help us win.”

If Prescott can rebound, why can’t Maher?

The Cowboys kept their collective foot on the pedal in the second half, and Prescott found receiver Michael Gallup running past the back edge of the end zone, just in time to secure a touchdown. Next generation stats It is tracked 0.5 yards from the back of the end zone.

And to close it out — yeah, still another Prescott touchdown drive Monday — found Cowboys quarterback CeeDee Lamb wide open in the fourth quarter, on a 4th-and-4 from the 18-yard line.

The cushion was enough to fend off a playoff wizard like Brady.

And while Prescott repeated postgame that “this wasn’t a Duck vs. Tom Brady game,” the seventh-year pro showed the composure his counterpart has always enjoyed.

“The heartbeat of the team,” Elliott said.

“Duck showed he’s a warrior,” said Lamb. “He’s a soccer player. And he came out throwing it.”

“I felt like it was a statement game for him.”

Jerry Jones: Could Dak be the best QB in the NFC?

As the Cowboys game won more vociferously than any other wild card winner this weekend drew to a close, conversation broke out in the visiting owners’ box at Raymond James Stadium.

Cowboys Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin approached Jones to contextualize the feelings that swirl around a victory like this.

Remembering the 86 yards he contributed to the Cowboys’ last win on the road, a day earlier than 30 against the San Francisco 49ers, the 114 yards and two touchdowns Irvin hauled just three weeks later as the Cowboys won their first win. Three Super Bowl titles in four seasons.

Irvin equated the excitement of victory with a dog smelling fresh meat.

“You put the dog on the hunt and you put them there, and then once they get a taste of that, they come back,” Jones recalls. So that’s what I did here, and these people are never going to be the same again.

“This was an amazing experience.”

Behind Dak Prescott's stellar play, the Cowboys beat Tom Brady for the first time on Monday.  (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

Behind Dak Prescott’s stellar play, the Cowboys beat Tom Brady for the first time on Monday. (AP Photo/Peter Joneleit)

The Cowboys’ win Monday night was an amazing experience because of all the historical and recent evidence that they weren’t prepared for victory. But for Jones, this win not only sent a message of relevance past and present. It also holds great significance for the Cowboys’ immediate future, the team owner and general manager believes.

“It’s no exaggeration to think that this experience has made our team much better,” said Jones. “This win is priceless For everyone who knows: it could happen You are. “

That “it” — a Cowboys win, a Cowboys postseason run, maybe even the magical season the Cowboys have waited 27 years to recapture — can happen, Jones said, because of this medium.

Prescott stumbled into a wild card game last year, a “scar” he says he will wear for the rest of his career. He’s missed five games this season due to a broken thumb, then switched back and forth between completing the most advanced throws of his career and throwing the most baffling interceptions.

Hearing the noise, Prescott agreed that the dangerous style he would become comfortable with wasn’t necessarily his wrong But she needed a sharper balance of reward to justify her embrace.

And then, with confidence and precision with his arms and legs, Prescott led his team to victory against the winner of an NFL playoff.

“All of this is a nice badge,” Jones said. “He was well aware of the criticism, whether it had much to do with it or not, that we haven’t won playoffs over the last 10 years. Still, there he was. I think he just took it, right on the face of it, Brady and all, and just said: I’ll show you.”

On Sunday at 6:30 PM ET in Santa Clara against the 49ers, Prescott will aim to show it again.

Count Jones among those who believe.

In the right place, the right circumstances, he made it clear to me that he might be the best — definitely NFC — quarterback,” Jones said in a quiet moment, about a half hour after Prescott had unpacked his bags and onto the team buses to Dallas.

Follow Jory Epstein of Yahoo Sports on Twitter @employee

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