Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season threw up more questions than answers, but there remains no doubting Patrick Mahomes' outstanding talent.

In one of the highlights of the opening round of games, Mahomes threw for 337 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a comeback win over the Cleveland Browns.

All eyes will be on Mahomes again in Week 2, and the Chiefs have an intriguing matchup against fellow quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.

This battle between two of the past three MVPs has been one-sided in the past, though, as Stats Perform discovers in the most interesting facts from Sunday's biggest games.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens

The Chiefs will have few concerns about going on the road, boasting a 5-1 record against the Ravens in Baltimore all-time. They have also won each of the teams' past four meetings.

This dominance is reflected in Mahomes' record against Jackson, winning all three head-to-heads and averaging 378.7 passing yards per game to his opponent's 170.3.

Of course, Jackson is a greater threat across the ground than through the air, leading the Ravens in rushing yards against the Las Vegas Raiders last week for the 21st game of his career (including the postseason). In that time, no other QB has led his team in rushing in more than 12 games.

But even if Jackson can guide the Ravens into a lead, that brings no guarantee of victory. They gave up a 14-point lead for the first time in 99 games against the Raiders, while the Chiefs recovered from 12 points down at home to the Browns and actually have a 10-8 record after trailing by double digits since the start of 2018.

Dallas Cowboys @ Los Angeles Chargers

Another clash between two top QBs on Sunday sees Dak Prescott take the Cowboys to the Chargers having last week continued his impressive run even in defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Due to injury, Prescott has only actually played six games since the start of last year, but he has passed for at least 400 yards in four of them – no other player has more than two such games in that span.

However, Dallas have lost a league-high three games while posting 450-plus total net yards since the beginning of 2020.

The Chargers have their own prolific passer, too, in Justin Herbert, who threw for 337 yards in a win against the Washington Football Team in Week 1, meaning he now has 4,673 passing yards through 16 career games – a tally only topped by Mahomes' 5,100 in his first 16 games.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins

Josh Allen is another elite passer who would hope to be in MVP contention at the end of the year, but he was less impressive in the Bills' opening defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers, completing only 30 of 51 passes.

While that was a career high for pass attempts, NFL teams are 4-20 when having a QB throw 50 or more since the start of last season.

Allen at least has fond memories of facing Miami. In the first of the sides' two meetings last year, he threw for career bests in yards (415) and TD passes (four), while the second clash saw the Bills score 56 points – a tally they have only ever topped once, also against the Dolphins in 1966.

Buffalo have five straight wins against Miami, although the Dolphins are in form with 10 wins in 13 games after 10 victories in their prior 33.

Elsewhere...

New Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford will fancy his chances against the Indianapolis Colts. His passer rating of 156.1 in Week 1 led the league, but Russell Wilson, against the Colts, was second with 152.3. Stafford threw three TD passes, including two of more than 50 yards – a feat only previously achieved once by a player in their first game with the team in the Super Bowl era (John Stofa for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968).

Jameis Winston took a slightly less spectacular route to his five TD passes last time out, with 148 passing yards the fewest from a QB to throw five for five scores.

Meanwhile, first overall pick Trevor Lawrence threw for 332 yards, the most by a player on his debut since Cam Newton's 422 yards in 2011, but he also had three interceptions – something he never did in his 40 games at Clemson.

Each of the first-round rookie QBs will be aiming to build on feats of some manner, with 21-year-old Trey Lance the youngest player in the Super Bowl era to throw a touchdown on his first NFL pass.

Mac Jones, who this week faces Zach Wilson, threw for 281 yards – the most by a New England Patriots rookie on debut.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won an opening-night thriller in the NFL, the Super Bowl champions overcoming the Dallas Cowboys 31-29 thanks to a field goal with two seconds remaining.

The Cowboys led 29-28 with seven seconds on the clock at Raymond Jones Stadium – the home of the Buccaneers and the scene of their Super Bowl LV triumph in February.

But after Brady led an 11-play, 57-yard drive, Ryan Succop stepped up to convert the last-gasp field goal as the Buccaneers opened the 2021 season with a win.

It was another memorable outing for seven-time Super Bowl champion Brady (43), who passed Drew Brees for most career passing touchdowns in season openers in NFL history.

Brady completed 32 of 50 passes for 379 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions as the 44-year-old quarterback fuelled the Buccaneers.

Cowboys counterpart Dak Prescott – back on the field for the first time since his season-ending ankle injury in Week 5 of the 2020 season – was 42-for-58 passing, with 403 yards, three TDs and one interception.

Prescott has had 400-plus yards in four games since the start of last season – the most by any player in the NFL.

The Buccaneers and Cowboys traded touchdowns in the opening quarter – Brady finding Chris Godwin before Prescott's 22-yard pass was caught by CeeDee Lamb inside the final two minutes.

Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected for a touchdown as the Buccaneers reclaimed the lead and while Prescott's TD pass to Amari Cooper and a Greg Zuerlein field goal put Dallas ahead, Tampa Bay had the last say before half-time – Antonio Brown on the end of a 47-yard throw.

There was history made in the third quarter as Brady and Gronkowski combined for their 100th touchdown, the star pair joining Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison (114) in the 100 club.

With his 22nd career game with multiple receiving TDs, Gronkowski broke a tie with Antonio Gates for most games by a tight end in the Super Bowl era and moved into a tie for sixth in any position.

Dallas only trailed 28-26 entering the final period thanks to Cooper's second TD and the visitors took the lead with just over a minute remaining via another Zuerlein field goal, but Succop and the Buccaneers were not to be denied.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expecting Dak Prescott to be at his best as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback returns to action in Thursday's NFL season opener. 

Prescott did not play in the pre-season and has not seen live game action since suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle last October against the New York Giants. 

But Cowboys CEO and director of player personnel Stephen Jones said Tuesday that Prescott is "100 per cent ready to go" for the game and he has "total confidence in Dak and how he feels about what he can do for this football team." 

The defending Super Bowl champions are of similar mind, said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. 

"Knowing him [Prescott] personally like I do, there's no change in him, with the way he's gonna play," Arians told reporters. "He only knows one way how to play, and that's full-speed."

At full speed, Prescott is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the NFL. In his last full healthy season, 2019, Prescott led the NFL with 4,902 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, and added 277 yards and three more TDs running the ball. 

He was off to a similarly effective start before going down in Week 5 last season, completing 68 per cent of his passes for 1,856 yards with nine passing and three rushing touchdowns. 

The opposing quarterback Thursday, Tom Brady, can relate to returning from a serious leg injury. He spoke Tuesday of his mindset in coming back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the first quarter of the 2008 opener, an injury that cost him the rest of the season. 

"We kind of feel invincible at times, especially playing a really physical sport, but I think one thing about getting injured is we're not invincible," Brady said. "I think you have a different perspective when you come back.

"You're really disappointed when you lose games, but it's more disappointing when you don't get to play in games. I'd rather play and lose than not play at all, as crazy as that sounds. If you're not playing it just means you're at home.

"I remember that was a tough year just sitting, watching, watching all my teammates, and I made a pretty conscious decision I was gonna do everything I could at that point to stay healthy as I could my entire career."

Brady has, starting every game since the 2009 season opener aside from his four-game "Deflategate" suspension at the beginning of the 2016 season. 

As he prepares to begin his 22nd NFL season, Brady knows he and his team will need to out-play Prescott and the Cowboys to get off to the start they want. 

"[Prescott is] a really talented player," Brady said. "Really since the day he got in the league he's shown to be a great leader of the team, and you know we're just expecting him to play like that, like Dak Prescott does.

"He's very talented, moves in the pocket, throws a good ball, they've got a lot of talented skill players.

"So for us, offensively, we're gonna have to do a good job putting our defence in a good position, I don't think we can give any extra possessions.

"Turnovers will be a big factor, field position is going to be important. It's a big challenge for our team."

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said he is "definitely ready" to make his NFL return against Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

Prescott's 2020 season ended in Week 5 with a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle and the Cowboys star has been stepping up his comeback ahead of the September 9 trip to Tom Brady's Buccaneers.

Two-time Pro Bowler Prescott – who also hurt his shoulder during preseason, having undergone ankle surgery – expressed excitement over his imminent return for the 2021 opener following Friday's practice.

"I'm definitely ready. I'm excited," Prescott told reporters. "I put in a lot of work to get to this point.

"Whether it was months ago, rehabbing the ankle, to the last few [weeks] keeping the feet working while I was letting my arm rest.

"There is so much work I put into this I'm just excited to go out there and be a part of the full game. Just being out there with my brothers and being able to do something I love."

Since taking the starting role as a rookie in 2016 from an injured Tony Romo, Prescott has thrown for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.

The 28-year-old Prescott has also rushed for 1,314 yards and a further 24 touchdowns.

Though he missed most of last season, Prescott is 10th among qualifying quarterbacks in yards per attempt (7.69) and 12th in passing plays of 25 yards or more since 2016.

"I think we went about this process the right way that part of it was protecting me from myself," Prescott said. "I mean, the moment I got into any team reps, I wasn't dialling anything down. I wasn't trying to throw a certain amount of percentage.

"I think that's just the way I play the game, I just went out there and playing within the moment, ripping passes, not thinking about it, just making the plays I needed to make. Then after two days like that realising there wasn't any residual effect and I wasn't sore.

"I've been sticking to the plan and it's all worked out. Yeah, from the shoulder to the leg to my mind, I'm ready to go."

Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy added: "You've got to give him credit for the process that he worked himself through. It isn't like he just stood in the back and didn't do anything while he wasn't throwing.

"He's staying on top of the footwork. His conditioning couldn't be better. All the extra work that all these guys put into it, Dak took advantage of that time."

The Dallas Cowboys do not believe Dak Prescott needs to play in preseason games to be ready for Week 1. 

That was the message conveyed by head coach Mike McCarthy on Monday as he said the team would maintain a cautious approach with their quarterback as he returns from a shoulder strain. 

Prescott returned to full team drills Monday for the first time since injuring his shoulder in practice on July 28, but it does not sound like he will play in Saturday's preseason game against the Houston Texans. 

“We’ll see how the week goes, but there’s no urgency from my perspective to see Dak play against Houston," McCarthy told reporters. "This is more about we don’t want to create a setback possibly.

"His volume of throwing leading up to that point, I mean, he was probably in midseason form from the amount of work he put in over the summer, coming out of the OTAs. ...

“I think we’d all like [to see him in a game] that but that’s not the priority. I think his volume throwing, getting the capacity back to where he was is the number one thing."

McCarthy added that if Prescott does not play Saturday, he also will not feature in the August 29 preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars because the focus in that game will be on players competing to win roster spots.

Prescott's 2020 season ended in Week 5 with a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle, so it will be quite a gap between facing game-speed defenders if he does not play until the September 9 opener at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Despite the layoff, McCarthy said keeping Prescott in controlled practice conditions is more valuable to the team than having him face an opponent when the games do not count. 

"We just really don’t want to put him in a position where he can reinjure it," McCarthy said. "We’ll continue to work on that plane."

Prescott is entering his sixth season as the Cowboys' quarterback. In 2019, his last full campaign, his career-best 4,902 passing yards were second in the NFL to Jameis Winston (5,109), and his 30 touchdown passes ranked fourth in the league. 

In his absence, the Cowboys have managed just one touchdown in two preseason games, both losses. 

 

Days into preseason camp, the Dallas Cowboys already have reason for concern after quarterback Dak Prescott left practice early Wednesday with a shoulder injury. 

Prescott walked off the field at Cowboys camp in Oxnard, California after experiencing soreness in his right arm. 

The team said later that an MRI exam revealed a muscle strain in his right shoulder and will be "evaluated on a day-to-day basis." 

Wednesday was to be Prescott's first practice with the team in full pads since his 2020 season ended in Week 5 with a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle. 

Prescott, who turns 28 on Thursday, downplayed any concerns in a statement released by the team. 

"I felt some soreness when making certain throws today, and I really just decided not to push things too far," he said. "Better to be cautious and smart about it.

"I don't see this as any kind of serious setback. We'll treat it on a daily basis, and I'll be fine." 

Prescott is entering his sixth season as the Cowboys' quarterback. In 2019, his last full campaign, his career-best 4,902 passing yards were second in the NFL to Jameis Winston (5,109), and his 30 touchdown passes ranked fourth in the league. 

Garrett Gilbert ran the first-team offence in Prescott's absence for the rest of Wednesday's practice. 

The Cowboys have one more preseason game than most teams, the August 5 Hall of Fame Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Canton, Ohio, but Prescott was not expected to play in that contest anyway. 

Dallas will open the regular season September 9 away to Tom Brady and the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott might be ahead of schedule in his return from the ankle injury that ended his 2020 season prematurely, according to Mike McCarthy.

Cowboys head coach McCarthy watched Prescott go through rehabilitation work on Saturday and was pleased with the progress the two-time NFL Pro Bowler has made.

Prescott suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in an October 11 game against the New York Giants but has had no apparent setbacks in his rehab. 

"He's throwing now, doing footwork drills. He's made a lot of progress," McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday.

"Very disciplined in his regimen. He's here almost every day. I'd say he's right on track or maybe a little ahead of schedule.

"I was very impressed with his progress. Just coming off the type of injury and his footwork, and he's doing all of the normal movements that you look to do in a quarterback-school format this time of year."

Prescott had surgery in October to fix the injury, then another procedure in December to address a prior issue with ligaments in the ankle. 

He signed a four-year contract extension in March that guarantees him $126million and could be worth $160m. 

At the news conference announcing that deal, Prescott pronounced himself "healthy" and said he was "getting close" to a return to the practice field. 

The 27-year-old had never missed a start in his NFL career before the ankle injury.

In those 69 regular-season games, he has thrown for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.

Prescott has also rushed for 1,314 yards and 24 more touchdowns.

Dak Prescott's season-ending Week 5 injury ensured 2020 was a wasted year for the Dallas Cowboys.

Rather than bolster their defense, the Cowboys gave Prescott an exciting new weapon with the 17th overall pick in the NFL Draft last April.

But wide receiver CeeDee Lamb's impact was diminished after Dallas' quarterback sustained a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle.

Without their talisman, the Cowboys stumbled to a 6-10 record, only good enough for third in the poor NFC East.

However, Prescott is set to return in 2021 and has committed his future to the franchise following a long-awaited breakthrough in contract talks.

This year's draft also provides the opportunity for a re-do, which should address the key flaws highlighted here with the help of Stats Perform data.

Offense

Prescott's lay-off makes an assessment of the Cowboys' offense last year rather tricky, but the team showed enough in his limited time on the field to encourage optimism.

Dallas finished 17th in the league for total points scored with 24.7 per game, yet this average was 32.6 points across the five games Prescott played. Over the course of the season, the Green Bay Packers led the league with an inferior 31.8 points.

Likewise, for five weeks, Prescott threw a sensational 371.2 yards per game, the most of any QB in the NFL in 2020. It is an achievement even more impressive when considering he bowed out in the third quarter of his fifth outing.

To put the Cowboys' miserable results in perspective, backup QB Andy Dalton (197.3 yards per game) ranked 37th. In the NFC East, he outperformed only Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Hurts (70.7 yards per game) among players with 100 attempts.

Even with Dalton applying the handbrake, Amari Cooper put up 1,114 yards from 92 receptions for five touchdowns. Lamb also had five TDs on 74 catches for 935 yards, while Michael Gallup's own five came from 59 receptions and 843 yards.

Cooper had contributed eight scores the previous season when paired with Prescott throughout, and Lamb will hope he can similarly profit from the starting QB's return.

The receiving corps could still be more efficient, however. Lamb dropped 8.1 per cent of the passes sent in his direction, while running back Ezekiel Elliott dropped 8.5 per cent - the Dallas pair ranking third and second-worst among players with 50 or more targets.

Behind an offensive line also ravaged by injury, Elliott - another former first-round pick on offense - led the way on the ground with 244 carries for 979 yards and six rushing TDs. The Cowboys' 111.8 rushing yards per game ranked 17th.

So there is still plenty of room for improvement but reason to believe Prescott's return will lift this offense into the upper echelons.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said he was doing cartwheels while on holiday when he heard star quarterback Dak Prescott had re-signed with the NFL franchise.

Prescott had a long-running contract saga which came to an end three weeks ago, signing a four-year deal reportedly worth $160million after he had been tagged last offseason.

Two-time Pro Bowler Prescott only managed five games in 2020 due to a serious ankle injury as the Cowboys finished outside the playoffs with a 6-10 record.

McCarthy, who enters his second season in charge of the Cowboys in 2021, was holidaying in Florida when he found out Prescott's contract saga had ended and was delighted to secure his future.

"It's a lot easier to do cartwheels on the sand, I'll say that," McCarthy said. "Obviously I was very excited."

He added: "Dak is the keystone of this team. I'm excited about year two on offense. In a lot of ways, we didn't feel like we got to have a year one."

Since taking the starting role as a rookie in 2016 from an injured Tony Romo, Prescott has thrown for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.

He has also rushed for 1,314 yards and a further 24 touchdowns.

Though he missed most of last season, Prescott is 10th among qualifying quarterbacks in yards per attempt (7.69) and 12th in passing plays of 25 yards or more since 2016.

The quarterback said earlier this month that he was close to being fully healthy following ankle surgery, well ahead of the September start for the 2021 season.

McCarthy added: "His presence and natural leadership ability is something that will continue to grow. You'll see that in the locker room."

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott insisted he was "healthy" after undergoing ankle surgery.

Prescott needed surgery after suffering an ankle injury in October last year and he made just five appearances last season.

The 27-year-old's long-running contract saga came to an end earlier this week, signing a four-year deal reportedly worth $160million.

Prescott said he was getting closer to being completely healthy as preparations continue for the new season.

"I thought about jogging out here and jumping up on the stage, but I don't know if y'all are ready for that," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"I'm healthy. I control what I can control, I followed the doctor's orders the whole time, put in my own work ethic to it. You saw me walking out here. I've been on that field back there [rehabbing]. I'm healthy and I'm getting close."

Prescott added: "I'll be ready when it matters and I'll be more healthy and better than I was before."

Since taking the starting role as a rookie in 2016 from an injured Tony Romo, Prescott has thrown for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.

He has also rushed for 1,314 yards and a further 24 touchdowns.

Though he missed most of last season, Prescott is 10th among qualifying quarterbacks in yards per attempt (7.69) and 12th in passing plays of 25 yards or more since 2016.

Prescott needed a second surgery on his ankle and he explained why he decided to undergo another operation.

"Obviously the first surgery with an open wound, you want to get that and eliminate any risk of infection," Prescott said.

"We got a month or so down the road and said it would be best if we went in there and did do that [second surgery] now so as Mr [Jerry] Jones said, 10 years, 15 years, I can be playing still and not have to deal with something bothering me.

"We might as well knock it out and get it straight now while I'm already missing time. That was obviously the thought behind that."

Dak Prescott was congratulated on his long-awaited new Dallas Cowboys contract by a host of stars, with a Super Bowl challenge next on the agenda.

The Cowboys tied their quarterback to a four-year deal reportedly worth $160million on Monday, a day before Tuesday's deadline to place the franchise tag on impending free agents. Dallas tagged Prescott last offseason.

Reports say the agreement, which brings to an end one of the longest-running QB sagas in the league, will see Prescott receive $126m guaranteed in a deal that contains a no-trade clause.

Tad Prescott, Dak's brother, was among the first to react and he wrote on Twitter: "Let's go, Dak. Time to win the Cowboys a Super Bowl."

Former Cowboy Dez Bryant suggested the positive resolution was absolutely vital to the team's title hopes.

He compared the stand-off to running back DeMarco Murray's Dallas departure in 2015, shortly after a controversial playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

"The Dak situation started to remind me [of when] we let DeMarco walk in '15," Bryant posted.

"Me, personally, I knew our chances of having a chance to win the Super Bowl [were] gone.

"It wasn't the catch [against Green Bay], it was DeMarco leaving the team which made me feel hopeless. Smart decision, Cowboys."

DeMarcus Ware, Bryant's former team-mate, added: "Congrats, Dak. Go finish what you started."

The Cowboys were 6-10 in 2020 and have not played an NFC Championship Game since winning the Super Bowl at the end of the 1995 season.

Prescott has work to do to make the team competitive again, having missed much of last year following a devastating compound fracture of his right ankle in the Week 5 win over the New York Giants.

He has the backing of several big names, however.

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey wrote: "It's always earned. Nobody just giving out free money lol. Congrats, Dak."

Free agent wide receiver Golden Tate said: "Congrats to Dak and the best agent in the biz Todd France!"

And NBA All-Star Donovan Mitchell added: "Get paid, my guy! Dak, congrats!"

Ex-NFL defender Darius Butler even suggested Prescott had got a better deal than Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs QB who signed the most lucrative contract in sports.

He wrote: "I'm not a contract specialist but I feel like Dak got a much better deal than Mahomes. 

"$75M in year one. $66M guaranteed at signing. No trade, no tag. Back at the table at age 31 at the latest."

The Dallas Cowboys have signed franchise quarterback Dak Prescott to a four-year deal reportedly worth up to $160million.

Dallas announced the deal on Monday, a day before Tuesday's deadline to place the franchise tag on impending free agents. The Cowboys tagged Prescott last offseason.

Prescott will receive $126million guaranteed, according to multiple reports, in a deal that contains a no-trade clause.

The agreement brings to an end one of the longest-running quarterback contract sagas in the league.

Having failed to come to a resolution on a contract last offseason, Prescott earned $31.4m on the franchise tag.

However, he suffered a devastating compound fracture of his right ankle in the Cowboys' Week 5 win over the New York Giants in October.

Despite that injury, the Cowboys have finally chosen to pay one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL, with the former fourth-round pick having more than justified his new contract.

Since taking the starting role as a rookie in 2016 from an injured Tony Romo, Prescott has thrown for 17,634 yards with 106 touchdowns and 40 interceptions.

He has also rushed for 1,314 yards and a further 24 touchdowns.

Though he missed most of last season, Prescott is 10th among qualifying quarterbacks in yards per attempt (7.69) and 12th in passing plays of 25 yards or more since 2016.

The Cowboys will hold a media conference on Wednesday.

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