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Despite playoff loss Sunday, it’s only the beginning for Dak Prescott

It takes a special player to come back from being down 18 points in your first NFL playoff game to keep your composure and lead your football team back to a tie game in the fourth quarter.

That’s exactly what Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Dak Prescott did Sunday in their home playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Prescott and the Cowboys dug themselves in a hole early, letting Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers get hot and take a 21-3 lead in the middle of the second quarter. Prescott would then lead his Cowboys on four straight scoring drives to tie the game at 28 with just over four minutes in the game.

Even with the comeback, the fortunes would not turn out well for Prescott and the Cowboys as Mason Crosby drilled a field goal as time expired to give the Green Bay Packers the 34-31 victory over the Cowboys.

It was a disappointing end for the Cowboys and former Mississippi State legend Prescott as the top-seeded Cowboys fell short of their goals in making a trip to the Super Bowl.

Make no mistake about it. This is only the beginning. It’s only the first time we’ve seen Prescott in the playoffs and it certainly will not be the last.

Prescott exceeded expectations for his rookie year and put a staple on his successful season with a great performance Sunday against the Packers. Prescott finished the game completing 24-38 passes for 302 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Stepping in for the injured Tony Romo, there wasn’t much to look forward to with a fourth-round rookie quarterback out of Mississippi State. Prescott would just be the stopping gap until Romo comes back.

“Just don’t screw it up and keep the team afloat until Romo comes back and you’ll be fine.” That’s what I imagined Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said to Prescott after the Romo injury happened. Maybe there were a few expletives thrown here and there, maybe not.

Prescott did more than keep the Cowboys afloat. He kept them at the top of the NFC standings for the majority of the NFL regular season. The Dallas Cowboys finished with a 13-3 overall record, the NFC East division title and earned the No. 1 seed in the NFL playoff race in the NFC conference.

Prescott finished his rookie season completing almost 68 percent of his passes with 3,667 yards passing and 23 touchdowns through the air and only four interceptions.

How has Dak Prescott been so good his rookie year? It extends back to his days at Mississippi State.

Prescott has always shown traits of a natural born leader since he was a Bulldog. It al started with his valiant effort in the 2013 Egg Bowl, when he filled in for the injured Tyler Russell at quarterback and led Mississippi State to the come from behind victory in overtime against Ole Miss. It was at that moment where Prescott captured the heart of a fan-base looking for it’s savior and a player to give a university hope.

Prescott displayed strong leadership and a calming presence throughout his time in Starkville and that caught the eye of NFL coaches and general managers. Prescott fell into the laps of the Dallas Cowboys as there were seven quarterbacks picked ahead of the MSU product.

That fire has carried Prescott all season long with the Cowboys and never let go of his opportunity to be the franchise quarterback in Dallas.

Young and talented players on offense also surround Prescott with the Cowboys. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot makes life easier for Prescott when Elliot runs the football like he did in his rookie season. Elliot ran for 1,631 yards in his first year with 15 touchdowns.

Prescott is protected by the best offensive line in the NFL as well. Four of the five starters up front are 27 years old or less. The offensive line is the identity of the Dallas Cowboys offense and as long as they remain together, Prescott and Elliot will have plenty of more opportunities to shine in the future.

Let’s not forget Prescott has one of the best wide receivers and tight ends in football to throw to in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Don’t let the loss Sunday fool you. He went toe to toe with the best quarterback in the league in Aaron Rodgers and came up just short.

It’s only the beginning.

Dylan Rubino is the sports editor for the Daily Leader. He can be reached at dylan.rubino@dailyleader.com