Cowboys’ Dak Prescott is on pace to shatter NFL passing records

Dak Prescott doesn’t care about the video-game numbers he’s putting up, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t incredible.

Through four games, the Cowboys quarterback has thrown for 1,690 yards, tops in the NFL. He’s both completed and attempted the most passes in the league, going 137 for 201 through the air. If Prescott keeps his pace up, he’ll shatter Peyton Manning’s single-season NFL passing yardage record of 5,477. Prescott is on pace to throw for 6,760 yards, but he’s much more concerned with Dallas’ 1-3 won-loss record.

“I’d give all those yards back for a different record,” Prescott told reporters after Sunday’s loss to the Browns.

Week 4 was the biggest Prescott day yet this season. Falling 27 points behind the Browns forced Prescott to throw even more than usual, and he concluded the game with 502 yards passing and four touchdowns. It took a season-high 41 completions on 58 attempts to reach that mark, yet Dallas still lost by 11.

The Cowboys lost Week 1 when Prescott threw for a relatively pedestrian 266 yards against the Rams. They lost to the Seahawks in Week 3 when Prescott threw for 472 yards and three touchdowns but was outdone by Russell Wilson. Dallas’ only win came thanks to a miraculous onside kick in Week 2, when Prescott had the first of his three-straight games with 450 or more passing yards, throwing for 450 yards (and rushing for three touchdowns) to beat the Falcons by a point. 

Prescott’s first few years in the NFL featured a dominant offensive line that let Ezekiel Elliott be the focal point of the Cowboys’ offense. But a midseason trade for wide receiver Amari Cooper in 2018 began the shift toward handing the offense’s keys to Prescott. By 2019, Prescott was the dominant force in Dallas’ offense as he threw for 4,902 yards, more than 1,000 yards better than his career-high. Then the Cowboys added Oklahoma star CeeDee Lamb in the 2020 NFL Draft to boost Prescott to yet another level.

The 2020 season has seen offense up across the board — teams are averaging the most points per game across the league in NFL history. Quarterbacks are putting up more fantasy football points than ever before, too, with Prescott’s total through four games the most all time, even though Russell Wilson has scored more this season. At least in Dallas, it’s early deficits that have caused such rampant throwing.

“We’ve got to find a way not to put ourselves in a hole and we can just play our game from quarter one through the fourth quarter, of picking and choosing what we want to do and when we want to do it, and not just slinging the ball across the yard,” Prescott said after Sunday’s game.

Even if Prescott’s pace slows and he doesn’t break Manning’s record, he’s given himself a strong chance to set the Cowboys’ single-season passing yardage record. He came up a yard shy of Tony Romo last year; Romo threw for 4,903 yards in 2012. Prescott is already more than a third of the way to that mark in a quarter of the season. Prescott’s nine passing touchdowns also put him on pace to tie Romo’s record of 36 that he threw in the 2007 season. 

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