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Best, worst QBs of Week 10

Can we all take a moment, objectively and without debate, to recognize Dak Prescott’s absolutely ridiculous game on Sunday night in Dallas? The Cowboys quarterback put on a show of pinpoint passing against the Vikings, producing the kind of game that would have reverberated for days and maybe weeks had his team won.

But here at ESPN QB Award headquarters, of course, we’re under no obligation to subordinate Prescott’s performance to concerns over the Cowboys’ 28-24 loss. The sheer number of breathtaking completions, and Prescott’s corresponding accuracy, should be recorded for posterity.

So let’s start at AT&T Stadium for our Tuesday assessment of NFL quarterbacking highs and lows, culled weekly from unique data via ESPN Stats & Information and NFL Next Gen Stats.

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Prescott’s raw numbers were impressive enough. He completed 28 of 46 passes for 397 yards and three touchdowns against a Vikings defense that entered the game ranked No. 9 in defensive DVOA, and his one interception came on a final-play Hail Mary. But the degree of difficulty of those completions merits further inspection.

Five of them — three to receiver Amari Cooper, and one apiece to Randall Cobb and Michael Gallup — carried completion probabilities of less than 30%, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. That’s the most by a quarterback in one game in the past two seasons. Using this metric (which takes into account the proximity of pass rush and distance between the target and the closest defender, among other data points), Prescott recorded five of the 17 most-difficult completions in Week 10.

Cobb’s 22-yard touchdown reception might have been the most notable of the bunch. There were 0.2 yards between him and Vikings cornerback Mackensie Alexander, the lowest separation on a scoring pass this season.

Prescott was especially effective on third downs on Sunday night, completing 10 of 14 passes, including nine for first-down conversions. On third-and-7 or greater, he completed all six of his passes and converted five first downs.

All of this came while pushing the ball downfield at an exceptional pace. Prescott’s average pass traveled 12.3 yards past the line of scrimmage, the second-longest average target depth for a game in his career. He completed 15 passes that traveled more than 10 yards downfield, a career high.

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It’s only fair to note that Prescott benefited from superior foot (and hand) work from his receivers. Cooper was especially successful keeping his feet in bounds on sideline catches. His pass protection was strong, as well. He was pressured on only 23.5% of his dropbacks even though he held the ball for an average of 3.24 seconds, the longest time in the league for Week 10.

But one of the most difficult jobs for a quarterback is to put the ball in a place where only his receivers can catch it, and Prescott did that Sunday as well as any quarterback has done all season.

In essence, the Rams had a play they thought would work better with Bortles, who has been somewhat mobile but rarely effective in his NFL career, than with Goff — whom they signed to a $134 million contract extension two months ago.

Goff does not appear close to losing his starting job, but the decision brought national attention to what many close observers of the Rams already knew: Goff has slumped badly in his fourth NFL season. After throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble against the Steelers, he ranks third in the NFL with 15 turnovers. Only the Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston and the Giants’ Daniel Jones have committed more.

Goff’s Total Quarterback Rating of 39.4, meanwhile, is worse than every qualified quarterback except the Bengals’ Andy Dalton, the Bills’ Josh Allen, the Bears’ Mitchell Trubisky and the Titans’ Marcus Mariota. Two from that group have already lost their starting jobs. Goff’s job is safe for the foreseeable future, but he is having a bench-worthy season.

The Titans have gone 3-1 since Tannehill replaced Mariota as their starter, most recently winning a wild 35-32 matchup with the Chiefs. The Titans have credited Tannehill with adding a level of ever-elusive energy to their offense after four years behind the steady but laconic Mariota.

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