The dust is beginning to settle on the Dallas Cowboys' latest campaign, one that featured a 12-5 regular season, dominating victory in the playoff opener and, ultimately, the all too familiar feeling of disappointment come late January.
Following Sunday's 19-12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium, the Cowboys extended their own NFL record of consecutive playoff appearances without a trip to the conference championship game, now standing at 12.
It's been 27 years since Dallas reached the NFC Title Game, a painful reminder but blunt evidence of the franchise's current inability to get over the hump.
And, as has always been the case, all eyes turn to the quarterback position.
The punchline on former Cowboys signal-caller Tony Romo was always his postseason struggles, as he averaged just 219 passing yards per game with only eight touchdowns across six starts, four of which were losses.
But there was hope with his successor, Dak Prescott, who eclipsed the 300-yard mark and tossed three touchdowns in his playoff debut as a rookie ... though still in a losing effort, which largely foreshadowed things to come.
Prescott made his sixth postseason start Sunday in Santa Clara and had a difficult outing, completing 23 of 37 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown while throwing two interceptions, adding to his league-high total that finished at 17 ... in just 14 games.
"For us to only put up the (12) points that we did, that's unacceptable," Prescott said. "It starts with me. I've got to be better."
Now through the same number of playoff starts as Romo, Prescott's thrown for more yards and touchdowns and has a higher completion percentage but also turned it over five times to Romo's two - and has the same 2-4 record.
Prescott's current postseason numbers stand at 137 of 216 (63.4 percent) passing for 1,559 yards (260 yards per game), 11 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding four scores on the ground.
None of these numbers are particularly egregious, but it's less about what Prescott has done than what he hasn't - consistently take his game (and team) to the next level during the playoffs.
The 29-year-old has completed at least 65 percent of his passes only twice in the postseason and has just two turnover-free outings. In each of the Cowboys' last two season-ending losses to the 49ers, Prescott is a combined 46 of 80 (57.5 percent) for 460 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
It's a worrisome trend for Prescott ... and one far from new for the Cowboys organization.
The question now is - where do things go from here in believing Dak is “The Guy”?
Owner Jerry Jones offered muscular support of his QB, saying after the loss that he’d “take his chances with Dak again and again.”
Prescott will have to wait at least another year to ease concerns surrounding his playoff woes, but when given a chance to quiet all doubters against the 49ers, he did the opposite ... and now has to chew on another premature postseason exit for the next seven months, searching for ways to "be better" when it truly counts.
You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft
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