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Five plays that shaped the Cowboys game against the Redskins

The Cowboys got a big win but still missed the playoffs.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

For seemingly the first time all season, the Cowboys actually did their part to make the postseason by blasting the interim-head-coach-led Redskins, but it ended up not making a difference as the Eagles beat the Giants to clinch the NFC East and eliminate Dallas. Nevertheless, here are five plays that shaped the game.

Jaylon Smith gets his first career interception on Washington’s opening drive

The Cowboys defense, and specifically Jaylon Smith, didn’t have the greatest season but they showed up in the final week of the year. After the Cowboys went three and out on offense, the defense did something they’ve rarely done this year: get a takeaway.

Case Keenum made a terrible throw under pressure and Smith made an incredible move to reach down and grab it for the pick. It set the offense up with great field position and helped them score the game’s first points.

Dak Prescott’s “free play” bomb to Coop awakens the offense

Early on in the second quarter the Cowboys were up 6-3 and it looked like a slopfest of a game where Dallas was afraid to have an injured Prescott throw too much. But on third and nine at the Dallas 36, Dak caught the defense offsides and launched a prayer to Amari Cooper down the sideline.

Cooper, who’s been plagued by poor play and low usage in recent weeks, climbed the ladder and made an epic catch in traffic for a 48 yard pickup. Two plays later, Dak found Ezekiel Elliott in the endzone and it ignited an offense that went on to put up 47 total points.

Redskins falter on fourth down

After a dismal 18 yard punt from Chris Jones, the Redskins started their offensive drive at the Dallas 44 and looked to be in great position to at least get a field goal if not more. Down 13-3, they needed a score too. But they quickly drew a fourth and five and decided to go for it.

Case Keenum tried to find Steven Sims Jr on a deep shot but missed him, partially due to great pressure upfront. As a result, the Cowboys offense trotted back on the field with great field position at the middle of the field. Six plays later, they scored a touchdown, a significant pivot from what should have been a score for Washington.

Dak stiff arms defender into the afterlife for big first down run

After back-to-back scores before and after halftime, the Redskins had suddenly cut it to a one-score game. And Dallas had driven the ball to midfield before coming up to third and two at the Washington 46. Taking a shotgun snap and seeing no open receivers, Prescott decided to do it himself.

Not only did he run for a first down, Prescott also delivered a brutal stiff arm to safety Kenny Ladler before going out of bounds. The scramble went for a gain of 23 yards and kept the drive alive, putting Dallas in scoring position. Three plays later, Dak threw a touchdown to widen the gap and Washington never got close again.

Eagles win over the Giants, make this game irrelevant

Since the Cowboys game took forever to conclude the first half, the Eagles-Giants game was several minutes ahead, making the Cowboys’ scoreboard watching all the more dramatic. But the Eagles made it a ten-point game early in the fourth quarter to effectively seal the game.

A few minutes later, they scored again to erase any and all doubt that they’d lose, and simultaneously eliminated the Cowboys. Suddenly, Dallas’ impressive blowout victory meant nothing and the season was over.

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