The Dallas Cowboys opened the 2021 NFL season on the primetime stage. Dallas took on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the very first game of the season with all eyes glued to the television screen. America’s Team versus the defending champs.

It was back-and-forth all night long. Every time that one team made a big play, the other responded with one of their own. Big play after big play, impressive drive after impressive drive. The game even came down to a last-second field goal. It had everything that you could want as a football fan.

One of the biggest storylines to come from Thursday night’s game is that Dak Prescott has not missed a beat. Prescott made his return to the football field after playing in just four-and-half games last season due to injury. The obstacle for Prescott was a swarming, aggressive Buccaneers defense that returned every single starter from its Super Bowl-winning squad.

That didn’t matter. At all.

DAK PRESCOTT REMINDED EVERYONE HOW GOOD HE IS

There have been weird narratives surrounding Dak Prescott ever since he took over the reigns in Dallas as a rookie. At first, it was that Ezekiel Elliott was carrying Prescott. Then, it was that the offensive line is the reason for his success. It shifted to that he can’t throw the ball down the field. The latest has been that Prescott can’t put a team on his back and compiles his stats in garbage time.

Some of those narratives can be attributed to Prescott falling to the fourth-round and having to shake pre-draft notions. Maybe it is because he plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Or just misinformed opinions being recycled over and over again.

It is pretty clear that Dak Prescott is an elite quarterback. He proved it in 2019. He was on track to shatter records prior to his injury in 2020. In week one of the 2021 season, he reminded everyone again.

Prescott completed an impressive 72-percent of his passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns against a strong Buccaneers defense. The one interception he had was on a beautifully-placed ball that went in and out of CeeDee Lamb’s hands — albeit it would have been an impressive grab.

He went toe-to-toe with the GOAT in his first game back since suffering a devastating ankle injury last October. Prescott didn’t have a tune-up game, either. From his very first play of the season on, he showed how he good he is.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR THE COWBOYS

The Dallas Cowboys have an elite quarterback. Simple.

That means that they will have a chance to win nearly every game on its schedule — that is how valuable the quarterback position is in the NFL. The defense isn’t up to standards — though they did look improved in week one — and there were several special teams miscues, but Prescott has the talent and the ability to put a team on his back.

Each time that Brady went down and scored, Prescott answered. Whenever Brady found Antonio Brown or Chris Godwin for a big gain, Prescott responded with a big play of his own to Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb. It was truly terrific quarterback play from both sides for four quarters.

Additionally, Prescott did not look fully healthy. Maybe it was knocking off the rust, but his mobility wasn’t there, and — at least at first — the zip on his passes weren’t there, either.

Yet, he still carved the Buccaneers defense up and down the field for 60 minutes — and that was without Zack Martin protecting up front against Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh.

The Ringer NFL columnist Steven Ruiz wrote that this is perhaps the game that shows people how good Dak Prescott is and has been.

This wasn’t some new development. Prescott has been one of the NFL’s sharpest quarterbacks for some time now. For whatever reason, he’s never gotten enough credit for it. On this night, when his physical abilities were limited, it stood out more. And maybe his matching the league’s greatest quarterback play-for-play—and doing it in the way we’ve seen Brady do it for two decades now—will force people to finally recognize his mastery of the quarterback position.

CONFIDENCE IS NOT IN QUESTION

Confidence is not something that you ever have to question or worry about with Dak Prescott. He is, by all accounts, a true leader that puts confidence in everyone around him.

That said, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback was not shy about his confidence in both his own and his team’s ability following the 1-point loss. Prescott told Tom Brady after the clock ran out that “we’ll see y’all again”.

Prescott explained the comment in his post-game press conference. Confidence is why Prescott told Brady that the two will meet again this season.

“That’s just the confidence I have in this group. The expectations are high,” Prescott said. “This is a playoff team. We’re gonna make a big push this year.”

If Prescott plays anywhere near as well as he played on Thursday night, the Dallas Cowboys will certainly be in the postseason — and perhaps get another shot at knocking off Brady and the champs.

Dak Prescott is an elite quarterback. There are no ifs, ands, or buts anymore.

It is time to put some respect on his name.

Featured image via Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports