Rookie stars want wins, even with Cowboys secure atop NFC
FRISCO, Texas (AP) Dak Prescott can help the Dallas Cowboys set a franchise record with 14 wins. Ezekiel Elliott could break Eric Dickerson's 33-year-old rookie rushing record with a career high and a few more yards.
Other than that, Dallas doesn't have much on the line in the regular-season finale at Philadelphia on Sunday. The Cowboys (13-2) are guaranteed the best record in the NFC, and the home-field advantage that goes with it, after beating the Detroit Lions 42-21 .
Prescott just wants to keep playing, and it's not because of that franchise mark or because he could break the record he now shares with Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger for most wins by a rookie quarterback (13).
''I want to play every game,'' said Prescott, whose 11-game winning streak put Tony Romo on the bench when the 10-year starter returned from a preseason back injury. ''I want to keep this momentum going. Any rep I can get is making myself better and I want to take advantage of those.''
Prescott is 47 of 56 passing for 491 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in two games since his worst as a pro in a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants. He has 23 touchdowns with just four interceptions and has risen to fifth on the NFL's rookie passing yardage list with 3,630 yards.
If he plays long enough against the last-place Eagles (6-9), he needs 110 yards to pass Peyton Manning, who had 3,739 yards for Indianapolis in 1998.
Owner Jerry Jones said he isn't worried about Prescott getting injured.
''Look at what Dak Prescott learned tonight and what's now in his computer that wasn't there before tonight,'' Jones said. ''With him being a rookie, we really need all these reps he can get, including any reps we get this week and next week, because we want him to be as educated and as well-prepared and have as much experience as he can when we get in the playoffs.''
Prescott was reminded after the Lions game that Oakland's Derek Carr and Tennessee's Marcus Mariota had their seasons end with broken legs in Week 16.
''It's football,'' Prescott said. ''You think about those things, they happen. You're just reacting and playing ball. You have to take those chances.''
Jones has a different view on the injury issue with Romo, who hasn't played since Thanksgiving last year. The question is whether he needs snaps in a game to be better prepared to replace an injured Prescott in the playoffs. Coach Jason Garrett hasn't addressed the question of whether Romo will play.
''We don't feel like we can gain anything from him running a few plays or a series of plays or several plays,'' Jones said. ''It would not be worth the risk.''
Elliott is more cautious than his rookie roommate, saying there's a "bigger purpose" than the NFL rushing leader reaching Dickerson's mark of 1,808 yards from 1983. The former Ohio State star has 1,631 yards and would need 178 against the Eagles. He had his career high of 159 in Week 15 against Tampa Bay.
But that doesn't mean Elliott's approach is any different from Prescott's. The Cowboys weren't holding back either, using a trick play against Detroit to get receiver Dez Bryant his first career touchdown pass on a reverse pitch and throw to tight end Jason Witten.
''We want to go out and win ballgames every week,'' said Elliott, who has the third-highest rookie rushing total behind Dickerson and George Rogers (1,674 with New Orleans in 1981). ''We don't care if we have the playoff spot clinched. We don't care if we have home field clinched. We just want to win ballgames.''
By beating the Eagles, the best rookie quarterback and running back in franchise history will have the ultimate club mark: victories.
NOTES: LT Tyron Smith left the Detroit game with a right knee injury. While Garrett said the injury doesn't appear serious, the Pro Bowler likely won't play against the Eagles. ... DT Terrell McClain didn't return because of an ankle injury, but Jones said it was a precautionary move. The Cowboys were down to four healthy defensive linemen at the end of the game.
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