If Dak Prescott
can open today’s game against the Denver Broncos without an interception on his first two throws, he will set an NFL record.
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback could become the first quarterback in NFL history to have five or fewer interceptions in the first 500 pass attempts of his career.
Prescott has four interceptions in 498 attempts in 17 career regular-season games.
As Associated Press sports writer Schuyler Dixon notes, young quarterbacks aren’t supposed to be so precise, but as a rookie, Prescott showed the ability to protect the ball. He set an NFL record for most passes to start a career without an interception (176), passing Tom Brady, who went 162 throws without a pick for the New England Patriots in 2000-01.
“I think he is a good decision-maker. He values the football,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “He understands the importance of it.”
The Cowboys had nine drives in their season-opening win over the New York Giants. The Giants had 10. It wasn’t a perfect game for Prescott, who completed 24 of 39 passes for 268 yards and a touchdown. He was off early but settled down and put the ball where it needed to be.
“When you talk about a game when you have nine, 10, 11 drives, making sure you end the drive with a kick, whether it’s a field goal, an extra point or a punt, that's big,” Garrett said. “I think he recognizes the importance of that. His decision-making follows that. It certainly helps our team.”
In 2014, when he took Mississippi State to No. 1 in the rankings, Prescott finished the season with 11 interceptions. His goal entering his final season was to cut down on the mistakes. In 477 attempts as a senior, he was intercepted five times.
In his past 30 regular-season games in college and the NFL, Prescott has thrown nine interceptions in 975 attempts.
After having one pass intercepted in back-to-back games (Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles), Prescott went without an interception in Weeks 9-13. He was picked off twice in a Week 14 loss to the Giants for his only multiple-interception game of his career. But since Leon Hall intercepted him late in the third quarter of that game, he has gone 117 passes without an interception in the regular season.
Garrett was impressed with more than just Prescott's decision-making against the Giants in Week 1.
“He is a natural leader and has such a command of the offense, and you saw that really throughout the ball game, whether we were in no-huddle or just playing from the huddle at a normal tempo,” Garrett said. “I thought he did a good job communicating with everybody and just running our offense. It's a good defense we played. It wasn't going to be one of those nights where everything came easy. It was going to be challenging.
"He did miss some throws early on in the game, where the ball sailed on him a little bit. But I thought as the game wore on, he made a lot of big plays, both with his feet and with his arm, from the pocket and out the pocket. He made really good plays at critical moments. Third-down efficiency is big, and the quarterback has a lot to do with that. His decision-making and his throws -- that was a big factor throughout this game to keep drives alive and stay on the field and give ourselves point opportunities.”
But what can he do against a pass defense as stingy as Denver's?
Well. ... As NFL.com's Alex Gelhar noted this week, in his three games against top-10 pass defenses in 2016 Dak Prescott averaged 229.3 yards per game, completed 74.4 percent of his passes and threw five touchdowns with no interceptions. He picked up right where he left off in Week 1, delivering an equally impressive performance against the Giants elite defense (scoring 17.12 fantasy points in the process).
As Gelhar summed up, "He's on the road this time, but Prescott is the real deal and is on the verge of becoming matchup-proof in fantasy."