Prescott breaks Romo’s single-season franchise record for TD passes as Cowboys rout Eagles

Dak Prescot ran into Dallas’ locker room with a message for any NFC team he’ll play next week in the playoffs.

“The real [stuff] starts,” he said.

It starts with finding out the Cowboys’ wild-card opponent, and Prescott will be like millions of football fans every Sunday and watch the scoreboard with their playoff fate at stake.

Prescott threw a career-high five touchdown passes against Philadelphia Eagles backups, Cedrick Wilson and Dalton Schultz each had two scoring catches and the Cowboys kept their slim hopes for a No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs alive with a 51-26 victory Saturday night.

The Cowboys still had seeding to play for against an Eagles team that rested Jalen Hurts and other key starters ahead of an NFC wild-card game next week.

The NFC East champion Cowboys (12-5) need losses Sunday by reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay against last-place Carolina and also for the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals to lose to earn the No. 2 seed. There also is a path to the No. 3 seed for Dallas.

The Cowboys can’t finish worse than the fourth seed. The Eagles (9-8) could still be the sixth seed.

Prescott stayed in the game until the fourth quarter, the lead increasing seemingly with each throw and so, perhaps, the risk of injury for a QB nearly 15 months removed from the gruesome compound fracture of his right ankle that ended his 2020 season.

Prescott did his best to get an offence that routinely produced at least 400 yards during a 6-1 start back on track headed into the playoffs following a two-year absence. He was 21 of 27 for 295 yards and no interceptions.

“It’s a hell of a year for a guy that was in as slump,” coach Mike McCarthy deadpanned.

He came out unscathed — and with the Cowboys’ record for touchdown passes in a season with 37. Tony Romo threw 36 in 2007. Prescott threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corey Clement early in the fourth quarter to make it 37-20 and set the mark and, mercifully for the Eagles, get him out of the game.

His teammates knew Prescott set the TD mark. Prescott needed a reminder of his record.

“Just coming off the field, they’re saying congrats and I thought they were saying congrats for five touchdowns,” Prescott said.

Of course, Prescott got his record in the 17th game this season.

Staying sharp, piling up points, and, yes, finishing 6-0 in the NFC East were all needed high points for the Cowboys.

But, like the team records on both sides that kept falling, the win comes with a bit of a shrug. With nothing to play for, the Eagles treated the game like a preseason finale. Hurts, with 3,144 yards passing and a team-high 784 yards rushing, got the night off. So did tackle Lane Johnson, cornerback Darius Slay and 11 more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Gardner Minshew started for Hurts and — for a drive, at least — it was Minshew Mania again when he threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Jackson on the opening drive. It was the first catch of Jackson’s career.

Philadelphia didn’t give anyone in green much reason to chant and cheer the rest of the game. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni defended his decision to rest Hurts, who missed a game this year with a sprained left ankle, ahead of the playoffs.

“We thought it was an opportunity to get him back to 100%. We need to be able to have our full arsenal of offence going into the playoffs,” Sirianni said.

Prescott sucked the energy out of the stadium early. He hit Wilson for TD receptions of 14 and 24 yards in the first half and then connected with Schultz twice over the final 1:45 of the half for a 30-17 lead. Schultz became only the fifth player since 2000 to catch two touchdown passes inside the final 2 minutes of the first half.

Already a sparse crowd because of the low stakes and lower temperatures, Eagles fans fled for the exits at the half.

Fumble return TD lifts Kansas City over Broncos

Linebacker Nick Bolton’s 86-yard fumble return after Melvin Ingram III darted into Denver’s backfield untouched and stripped Melvin Gordon powered Kansas City to a 28-24 victory over the Denver Broncos on Saturday.

With their 13th consecutive win over the Broncos, Kansas City (12-5) kept alive their hopes of getting the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.

They need Houston to upset Tennessee on Sunday to get the pole position; otherwise, they’re the second seed and will host a wild-card game next weekend in their quest to reach a third consecutive Super Bowl.

“We’re ready to go against wherever against whomever,” Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said.

Kansas City linebacker Nick Bolton returns a fumble for a touchdown during the second half of his team’s 28-24 comeback win over the Broncos on Saturday in Denver. (David Zalubowski/The Associated Press)

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill could surely use the week off that goes to the top seed in each conference. He injured a heel in pregame warmups and was held to one catch for 2 yards.

With Hill hurt, Mecole Hardman stepped up with eight catches for 103 yards.

“No one is Tyreek. He’s a special player that has never been seen in this league,” Mahomes said. “But Mecole is pretty close. … He was prepared for this moment.”

The Broncos (7-10) were ahead 21-20 and driving for another touchdown when Ingram sped past tight end Noah Fant and blew up the play just as Drew Lock handed the ball to Gordon.

Bolton scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 86 yards to give Kansas City its biggest lead, and Mahomes’ keeper on the 2-point conversion made it 28-21.

Lock and the Broncos quickly got into scoring position again, but coach Vic Fangio, who fell to 19-30 as Denver’s head coach, decided on a field goal on fourth-and-9 from the 13 as the crowd relentlessly booed the decision.

Fangio explained that kicking the field goal with 4:37 left gave his team a chance to get a stop and get the ball back. Even if they gave up a field goal, they’d be down a touchdown and could tie it: “I understand the second-guessing there and going for it. But fourth-and-9, your chances are not great.”Brandon

Brandon McManus nailed the 31-yarder, but the Broncos still trailed by four and would need a touchdown if they were able to stop Mahomes.

On third-and-8 from the Denver 17, Mahomes found Travis Kelce for an 11-yard gain at the two-minute warning, with the Broncos having burned all their timeouts.

Kansas City lined up in victory formation as the clock ticked down and the crowd of 61,441 — there were nearly 15,000 empty seats — streamed for the exits, a fifth straight losing season in the books and their playoff drought now stretched to six years.

Mahomes (15) passed for 270 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos on Saturday. (Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

Jerick McKinnon broke three tackles on his way to a 14-yard touchdown catch that put Kansas City ahead 17-14 on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Lock responded with a 31-yard dart to Tim Patrick on third-and-13 — that one pass topped Lock’s total yardage in the first half — and then Gordon burst through the line for a 47-yard touchdown that gave Denver a 21-17 lead the Broncos would take into the fourth quarter.

Harrison Butker’s 51-yard field goal pulled Kansas City to 21-20 early in the fourth quarter and capped a 10-play drive that covered just 25 yards.

Lock completed just 4 of 10 passes for 27 yards in the first half but the Broncos took a 14-10 lead into halftime thanks to Lock’s touchdown scrambles of 5 and 23 yards.

Kelce’s 3-yard catch put K.C. ahead 7-0, but Zayne Anderson’s roughing penalty on punter Sam Martin saved the Broncos from a second straight three-and-out, and Lock capitalized on his second chance to tie it with his 5-yard scramble that tied it at 7.

That drive started at the Denver 33 after Butker slipped on the kickoff. He also slipped twice in pregame warmups and changed his cleats before the game.

Denver got its ground game going to take a 14-7 lead when Lock kept it himself and darted up the middle from 23 yards out. That made him the first Broncos quarterback to with two touchdown runs in a game since Tim Tebow in 2011.

The Broncos, missing three of their top four cornerbacks, dropped two interceptions, one by Michael Ojemudia on Kansas City’s opening drive and another at the goal line by Kyle Fuller.

Right after Fuller’s miss, Butker’s 34-yard field goal pulled Kansas City to 14-10.

Original article: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/football/nfl/nfl-sunday-week-18-roundup-jan-8-1.6308710?cmp=rss

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