NFL AM: Cowboys Win Big Divisional Game


Prescott-Wentz I First Of Hopefully Many

Entering Sunday night’s game, the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles had played 110 times previously, and in none of those contests had a pair of rookies started at quarterback.  That all changed this week as fourth round pick Dak Prescott’s Cowboys defeated No. 2 overall pick Carson Wentz’s Eagles, 29-23 in overtime.

Dallas won their sixth straight game and moved to 6-1, first place in the NFC East and they opened up a two game lead over Philadelphia.

Although the NFL is a bottom line business everywhere but in Jacksonville, those in the Tony Romo for starting quarterback camp finally had some ammunition for their argument.  Prescott, the Cowboys rookie, had his toughest outing as starting quarterback, completing just 19 of 39 throws, for 287 yards.  He shook off a bad interception to find Dez Bryant for the tying score late in the game to send it to overtime.

“He didn’t blink,” wide receiver Dez Bryant said of Prescott after the game.“It’s as simple as that. I’ve been saying it since day one. The man is special.”

Prescott would later find a wide open Jason Witten in the end zone to seal the victory in the extra period.

“It was supposed to be a quick pass,” Prescott explained. “I kind of moved around and rolled to my right and I realized nothing had gone well all night going that that way, so I decided to turn around and Witten was there clear as day. When he’s that wide open I just wanted to get it to him. I didn’t want to overthrow him. It was great.

“I don’t care how bad I play. I’m not going to give up,” he said. “I’ve got great, unbelievable teammates around me giving me confidence, no matter what I’ve done.”

Although Wentz was ultimately out-dueled, he put in a good evening of work completing 32 of 43 throws, for 202 yards with a touchdown.  After it looked as if the league was starting to catch up to the rookie, a solid performance against Dallas was necessary.

Barring unforeseen injury or regression, it appears that Sunday night was the first of hopefully dozens of Prescott-Wentz matchups over the next few handfuls of seasons.  Right now both quarterbacks have to lean on strong running games and/or the short passing game to move the football, but both have shown themselves capable to grow into their roles as franchise signal callers.

When is the next meeting between these two?  It’s scheduled for Week 17 when the teams square off in Philadelphia with likely playoff implications on the line.  We’ll have to see if the Cowboys do indeed stick with the rookie instead of returning to a completely healthy Romo.  Even if they do go back to Romo, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to navigate through the season healthy until the regular season encore.

Alex Smith Leaves With Concussion(s)

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their starting quarterback Alex Smith, not once but twice in the team’s 30-14 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

The good news for Kansas City outside of the actual victory, is that Smith’s replacement, Nick Foles, played very well in relief completing 16 of 22 passes for 223 yards with a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers.

“He has a pretty good feel for the offense. He’s been in it before,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “He’s been a Pro Bowl player before. He’s pretty good.”

This doesn’t mean that there’s a controversy, at least not at the quarterback position.  The only controversy involving a quarterback is why Smith was allowed to re-enter the game after the first time his head hit the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

The real question is why was Smith put in harms way?  Andy Reid addressed it, sort of, in his press conference.

According to the Kansas City Star, Reid’s opening statement included a claim that Smith passed the second test, too, which sounded so unbelievable it had to be the first question. You said he passed the second test, too?

“He passed it the second time, yes,” Reid said.

This is when a team spokesman interrupted, and clarified to Reid: no, he didn’t pass the second test.

“Oh, I thought he did,” Reid said. “So he didn’t pass the second time.”

It’s difficult to have a lot of faith in the NFL to protect it’s players in these situations, as coaches are trying to do what’s best for the team to win and keep their jobs, which doesn’t always coincide with doing what’s best for the player.  On top of that, with all of the things that Reid has to concern himself with on a game day, having to do medical evaluations shouldn’t be on the laundry list.

Therefore the league has it’s concussion evaluation policy.  This is from Page 3 of the policy.

The athlete may have a concussion despite being able to complete the NFL Sideline Concussion Assessment “within normal limits” compared to their baseline, due to the limitations of a brief sideline assessment.

Chiefs wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who has taken the concussion test before explained vaguely how it goes.

“I think everybody’s different,” he said. “I think to have one standard test for each individual may not be the best thing. But at the same time, that’s what they came up with, that’s what we have, so that’s what they go by.”

We’ve seen the league drop the proverbial ball on these assessments time and time again.  It began when Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was struck in the head time and time again on opening night at Denver, only to return wobbly and woozy.  When it’s a quarterback we obviously notice it more and it never should have happened to Smith.

At this point we don’t know how long Smith will be out for the Chiefs, and the tough part about this is that he sees Foles playing well and he wants to return to the field as quickly as possible so he won’t potentially lose his job.  Non-guaranteed contracts lead to this, and there’s not a lot that can be done.

Hopefully the more this is publicized, the less that organizations will take liberties with their player’s health.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.