'I knew what this game meant'

“I got away from the way I play this game,” Prescott said postgame regarding his poor play to end the regular season. “Got greedy. Tried to just force some throws. Tried to take the big ones. And that’s not who I’ve been throughout my career, just taking what they give me, waiting on the big shot. I think it was uncharacteristic. It was a way for me to just dial back in. But I wiped that clean, and I knew what this game meant. I knew how important it was for our side.”

The game began ugly, perhaps a hangover from Dallas’ putrid Week 18 loss to Washington, as Prescott and Co. managed a grand total of negative-5 yards on two three-and-outs before even four minutes had elapsed.

The Cowboys would hardly be stopped after that thanks largely to Prescott, who earned the first postseason road win of his career and the Cowboys’ first such victory since 1992.

“As good as I’ve seen, that’s for sure,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters when asked about Prescott’s performance. “I think like anything, he’s so consistent in everything he does. He had a couple plays there early but he was on it the rest of the evening. I thought (offensive coordinator) Kellen (Moore) and the play calling, we stayed true to what we wanted to do. I thought he played extremely well and stayed aggressive. Took the check downs. I thought he had great command of the offense and excellent presence in the pocket.”

Dallas closed the first half with three straight touchdown drives of 80, 80 and 91 yards. Prescott finished two of those with throws to tight end Dalton Schultz, but his biggest exclamation point came on a flawless play-action bootleg to score on a fourth-and-goal play.

“(It) was just a great play call by Kellen,” Prescott said about his rushing TD. “The play call fooled the defense. I could’ve thrown it to Schultz. He already had one, so I figured I’d run it.”

Prescott orchestrated another 80-plus-yard drive after his defense opened the second half by keeping the Bucs scoreless for a sixth straight possession. That long drive ended on Prescott’s third TD pass, and he threw another two drives later on his second clutch fourth-down play — this time to CeeDee Lamb on a wide-open wheel route from the Bucs’ 18-yard line.

The score was 31-6 after that — the game all but over with just over 10 minutes remaining and Prescott’s magnum opus essentially complete.

Prescott joined Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan as the only players in the Super Bowl era with four-plus passing touchdowns and one-plus rushing score in a playoff game, and he became the first Cowboys player with five-plus total TDs in a postseason contest.

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