The Dallas Cowboys (12-5) pumped their chests with confidence and swagger headed into Sunday's Wild Card Game against the San Francisco 49ers (10-7) at AT&T Stadium, but left disappointed after a 23-17 loss to a historic NFC rival.
The entire organization is being heavily criticized for the loss, but the subpar play of quarterback Dak Prescott might be the hottest topic of discussion.
Some former Cowboys have been quick to voice their opinions on the first-round letdown, but Hall of Fame wide receiver Drew Pearson didn't hold back his frustrations regarding Prescott's performance during an interview with The Zach Gelb Show on Monday.
"I'm just wavering now with Dak," Pearson said. "I just saw regression as the season went on and that's a disappointment at $40 million a year."
With Prescott under center this season, the Cowboys were first in total yards per game (407) and second in passing yards per game (282.4). His individual stats showed elite production as well, with the seventh-most passing yards (4,449), fourth-most passing touchdowns (37), and third-best qualified passer rating (104.2).
And yet, Pearson admits his confidence in Prescott isn't as strong as it once was.
"It's wavered some towards the end of the season," he said. "I was really high on (Prescott) ... when they first drafted him. I was excited about that because of what he did at Mississippi State. He brought that winning attitude there and I thought he could bring that here."
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Indeed, over the years, Pearson has been a Dak supporter. But these comments show doubts in Prescott's ability to bring the Cowboys a sixth Super Bowl. It's possible the former Cowboy would have had more sympathy for the loss had Prescott handled the pressure better.
"At $40 million a year, you've got to take charge in that situation," Pearson said. "You've got to be ‘the man’."
A controversial final sequence saw umpire Ramon George bump into Prescott with just a few seconds remaining as the Cowboys were lining up for a spike that didn't come in time.
"Credit to them," Prescott said afterward regarding the home fans who were hurling trash at the officiating crew that left the field in a hurry.
"Don't go there," Pearson said of Prescott's comments. "Whenever the Cowboys lose, it's always somebody else's fault and that's what Dak was trying to do, pass the blame."
Prescott and the Cowboys have a long offseason ahead to figure out what went wrong on Sunday. In the meantime, QB1 will have to continue to prove his worth.
"He says all the right things, but now's the time to put up," Pearson said.