Dak Prescott dinked and dunked the Cowboys to victory on Sunday night. Jameis Winston gunslinged the Buccaneers to a valiant but failed comeback.
Dallas escaped with a big 26-20 win because Prescott was almost perfect passing (32 of 36, 279 yards) and didn't turn over the ball once, while Tampa Bay can keep thinking about might have been after Winston (17 of 35, 247 yards, 2 TDs) threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.
Prescott isn't all good again for good after rebounding from his worst rookie game last week, and Winston wasn't suddenly a dud as his team lost for the first time in six games. They're both young quarterbacks who have a ton to learn. Looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each other's games is a great place to start.
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Hopefully, Prescott and Winston will be in many more meaningful NFC playoff-caliber duels over the course of their promising careers. After all, a rematch in Dallas could happen as early as this year's playoffs. The one thing they're both doing for now is what their teams need to win games.
Prescott has the luxury of playing with an elite offensive line and the league's most dominant running game. There's no reason for him to force the ball downfield and take chances when Ezekiel Elliott is ripping through a defense for 159 yards rushing like he did to the Bucs.
Winston's line is shaky and he has had dwindling support from a still not totally healthy Doug Martin in the power running game. The Bucs' offensive line has been a work in progress all season, and was sunk further by needing to put Gosder Cherilus at right tackle for an injured Demar Dotson.
Because of that Winston has to be more aggressive in either getting the ball deep to Mike Evans for chunk gains or take more intermediate shots to his No. 2 wideout Adam Humphries. His tight end Cameron Brate remains Winston's one reliable way of finishing drives in the red zone.
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There are still times when Prescott needs it let it rip, and Winston needs to rein it in.
With a little more aggressive approach, the Cowboys perhaps could have avoided the field-goal fest that had them sweating the game until the final possession. On the flip side, one could say the Bucs would have won had Winston been more patient and conservative with check-downs.
Prescott has the arm to deliver downfield the way Winston can. Winston, when he gets into a rhythm like Prescott does, can be super efficient while throwing lasers all over the field. For both, that other side of quarterbacking has been seen in five of their games.
When Prescott and Winston study the game film from Week 15, will have a better idea of what they didn't do. They can learn just as much from watching what the other did do.
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The Cowboys and Bucs already know how physically talented their green franchise passers are. But what's really impressive is how each carries confidence and maturity not seen in most other quarterbacks of their experience level. They're mentally tough and smart enough to also know they need to keep finding every possible way to grow.
Winston, used to playing in so many big games going back to his Heisman and championship days at Florida State, still tends to get a bit too hyped as a competitor. That leads to the mistakes we saw in Dallas and in his handful of other early primetime opportunities.
Prescott, in less than one full season, has had the benefit of playing in high-profile pressure situations every week of his NFL career so far. He's had a chance to handle the spotlight better in the NFL. He was just under the Sunday-night lights last week. Winston hadn't seen that until this Sunday.
Winston has gotten more used to winning ugly, when he doesn't have close to his best and isn't getting much support. Prescott could have used a little more of that to overcome his issues against the Giants' defense in Week 14.
The Cowboys and Buccaneers wouldn't be in their current positions without