Prior to Thursday night's 2021 NFL season opener, the last time we saw Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on the football field, he was writhing in pain after suffering a devastating ankle injury. The last time we saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game that counted, they were dominating Patrick Mahomes and the mighty Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

Prescott didn't play at all in the preseason due to a shoulder injury, so he was facing an immense challenge going against the defending Super Bowl champions in his much-awaited return to the field. While the Cowboys suffered a devastating 31-29 loss in the final seconds as Tom Brady did his thing again (aided by a controversial no-call), the silver lining here is that Prescott looked like himself and is ready to have a monster season.

The quarterback didn't show many ill-effects in his return against a ferocious defense. While he missed a few throws badly and didn't always looked the fastest on scrambles, he made a number of huge plays and put his Cowboys in position to win this game.

His first pass of the night was a 28-yard strike to Amari Cooper while backed up to the 2-yard line. After the Buccaneers scored first, Prescott led Dallas down the field and hit CeeDee Lamb with a 22-yard touchdown pass to answer. Later in the game after Tampa Bay went up 28-19, Prescott again answered with a touchdown pass to Cooper. He then drove the Cowboys down the field to give them a 29-28 lead in the final minutes.

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Unfortunately, Dallas gave Brady too much time after that go-ahead field goal from Greg Zuerlein, who left four easy points on the board earlier in the game with a short missed field goal and a missed extra point. While Zuerlein was clutch with that late 48-yard field goal, hitting all the chip shots would have given them a win.

Prescott wasn't perfect, but the Cowboys can't complain about a 403-yard performance with three touchdowns. It did take him 58 pass attempts (42 completions) to get there, and there was an interception, but putting up those numbers against this Buccaneers defense is a win. Sure, Prescott putting up monster numbers in losses is probably getting a bit old, but given the circumstances, Dallas has to be excited about the rest of the season.

The Cowboys play in a weak division and, on paper, have a very manageable schedule. If this is the Dak Prescott we're going to get, Dallas is going to have a great season and he could be an MVP candidate, even if the defense continues to stink.

While the Cowboys lost on Thursday night, in a way, they actually won.