The latest installment in the Giants-Cowboys rivalry culminated in a 37-34 Dallas victory on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. But beneath the surface, it was a dark day for both teams.
A third-quarter tackle by Giants veteran cornerback Logan Ryan on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott saw the quarterback suffer a right ankle compound fracture-dislocation. The injury obviously ends Prescott’s season and his 2020 quest for a new payday that many thought might make Patrick Mahomes’ record-setting deal look like chump change.
The sight of Prescott, who started every game for the Cowboys dating back to his rookie year in 2016 and who was on pace for an MVP-caliber season with an eye toward his desired long-term contract, was one of those “where were you?” moments that left both sidelines shaken.
“I just feel terrible for him,” said Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. “He was having a tremendous year in a short time working with him. He’s made such an impression on me and he’s shown he’s clearly the leader of his football team.”
Prescott’s injury was met with an outcry of sympathy across the league, as it quickly took over as the top headline of Week 5 and for a good reason.
Besides Prescott’s financial aspirations, which now get put on hold as he begins a long road of recovery back from the emergency surgery he had Sunday evening, the effects of his injury could cast the NFC East in doubt.
Dallas was built to win now this season with their quarterback as the centerpiece. While the Cowboys technically sit in first place at 2-3, questions about whether they can hold the division league without Prescott have come up.
Backup quarterback Andy Dalton led Dallas to the win by virtue of a last-minute field-goal drive, giving the Cowboys a glimmer of hope optimism with a drive that has put Dallas in first place.
“I’ve obviously been in these situations multiple times, so it’s a lot of funt o be in those situations,” Dalton said. “It’s fun to see how everybody responded.
“That’s why you play this game for moments like that.”
Still, Dalton doesn’t bring the same dimension as Prescott as a dual-threat.
Dalton has proven to be a capable quarterback given his nine years of NFL experience as a starter in Cincinnati. But his record in big games doesn’t bode well for the Cowboys’ playoff hopes as Dalton has never won a playoff game in four career postseason starts.
In terms of Prescott and his long-term future with the Cowboys, the injury adds another layer of questions to his contract negotiations’ status going into the 2021 offseason.
Prescott is currently playing on a one-year $33 million franchise tag after his camp, and the Cowboys’ front office failed to agree on a contract this past offseason.
Prescott’s dazzling start to the season combined with the injury could leave both sides with even more contention this offseason.
Will the Cowboys be comfortable giving their quarterback a long-term contract extension coming off a serious ankle injury?
Would Prescott be willing to play on another one-year deal after facing the consequences of the risk that comes with playing on a one-year deal with his latest injury?
How heavily will Dalton’s performance for the rest of the season weigh into the negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys?
Those are the questions that the Cowboys and Prescott will have to face in the coming months thanks to this untimely and unfortunate injury.