During a season in which Dak Prescott’s passing prowess and long-term viability as an effective starter were vociferously questioned, it was only appropriate that he ended the regular season with a clutch throw that rebuked those critiques.
In a win over the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys’ oft-embattled quarterback made the most thrilling play of Week 17. With 1:19 remaining in regulation, the Cowboys trailed New York 35-28, stuck in critical condition on fourth-and-15 from the 32.
The Cowboys lined up in shotgun formation with four receivers split wide and a running back to help stall the Giants defensive pressure. As the pocket collapsed, Prescott spun away to avoid Giants DE Olivier Vernon and rolled to the left to avoid the rush, then scrambled forward. At that point, the wise move would’ve been for Prescott to tuck the ball and try to gain the first down with his legs. Instead, he kept his eyes locked downfield.
Beasley, who began the play lined up to the right, adjusted his route and slanted left, into Prescott’s line of sight.
Without breaking his stride as he eluded the rush, Prescott uncorked a spiral that was hauled in by a diving Beasley in the back of the end zone as the trailing cornerback B.W. Webb watched.
The play was so close to the sideline that initially it was ruled incomplete because Beasley landed out of bounds. However, further review turned up visual evidence of Beasley’s knee bouncing off the end zone turf.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Beasley made a clutch fourth-down snag. Beasley has made it a habit of saving his most inspiring catches for the Giants and earlier this season, he tied an NFL record by recording seven first-down receptions against the Big Blue.
Beasley’s catch and the following extra point, pushed Dallas ahead to a 36-35 lead. A four-and-out series by the Giants secured Dallas’ 10-win season.
Beasley’s diving catch didn’t have any bearing on Dallas’ playoff positioning since they were locked in as the No. 4 seed, as a consequence of claiming the NFC East title two weeks ago, but the play sure does provide some positive momentum heading into the playoffs.
A win like this has the potential to provide enough motivation to alter a Wild Card team’s trajectory. Prescott’s statistical contributions this season are meager in comparison to his peers. Since throwing for fewer than 200 yards on four different occasions in the first games of the season, Prescott has done so only once since. Prescott’s 387 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants were both season-highs.
Watching him complete such a high volume of passes was a welcome sight for Cowboy nation. Sunday was his 14th game-winning drive since becoming Dallas’ starter. Those are the most by any quarterback in the first three years of a player’s career, dating back to the 1970-merger.