The 2019 season for the Dallas Cowboys is officially over. It’s been a painful one, which will come with a big shake up in Big D, but at least it ended on a positive note, smoking the Washington Redskins. The win should surprise no one as Washington is so banged up that it would’ve been outright inexcusable to not leave this game without a convincing victory, but hey - we’ve been surprised before.
A Cowboys win opened the door for a possible playoff appearance; however, that door was slammed quickly when the Eagles took care of business against the Giants. The NFC East now belongs to Philly as the Cowboys just can’t seem to put back-to-back playoff seasons together.
Here are ten thoughts on the Cowboys blowout victory over the Redskins.
1. Just short
Dak Prescott finished a yard short of Tony Romo’s single-season yardage mark as Dak ended the year with 4,902 yards. After such a flourishing first half of the season, it appeared that record was all but broken, but with a couple of 212 yard performances down the stretch, suddenly the record became a little more difficult to reach.
Prescott at least made it interesting with a 303-yard passing performance against the Redskins. It was the seventh time this season he reached the 300 yard mark. Strangely, the Cowboys also finished with an 8-8 record back in 2012 when Romo set the record.
2. Defense making plays early
At the end of the day, the Cowboys offense put up 47 points on the Redskins, their highest output of the season. But it took them a while to get going as their first four possessions were pretty pathetic. The Cowboys only netted 18 yards on those four drives, with the final one ending in a sack/strip/fumble of Prescott that was converted into three points for the Redskins.
Despite all of that inefficiency, Dallas still held an early 6-3 lead thanks to a couple takeaways. Jaylon Smith picked off a pass and late-season linebacker addition Malcolm Smith made a fantastic play to knock the ball away from Adrian Peterson. While the Cowboys offense couldn’t convert those takeaways into touchdowns, it was still a great showing by the defense to create turnovers.
3. Heads up from Dak
The Cowboys finally found the end zone on their fifth possession, and it was aided by a couple of nice improv plays from Prescott. First, the Redskins jumped offsides, and with Dak knowing he had a free play, he just launched it deep to Amari Cooper. The Cowboys receiver climbed the ladder and hauled in the catch for a 48-yard gain.
Then, Dak did a little creative navigating of Ezekiel Elliott as he directed him towards the sideline where they connected for a 13-yard touchdown strike. Some of Dak’s best work comes when he goes off script, and it was nice to see him making the plays on Sunday.
4. Strong running attack
The Cowboys running game was in full swing, tallying up 223 yards on the ground. It was the fourth time this season the team has ran for at least 200 yards, and the second time against the Redskins.
It was a collective effort led by a very efficient Ezekiel Elliott who had 122 yards on 18 carries. He also had his longest run of the season with a 33-yard touchdown scamper late in the first half. Tony Pollard added another 60 yards on 14 carries. It was the third time this season that Pollard has had at least 60 yards rushing, with each time resulting in blowout wins. Even Dak tacked on 33 yards with most of that coming on a nice read option run where he stiff armed the defender.
5. Hat trick for Gallup
It’s been a great season for second-year receiver Michael Gallup. After a 98-yard performance last week, Gallup eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark. He was back at it again on Sunday with another 98-yard performance, only this time he added three touchdowns to go with it.
Despite missing a couple games with injury, Gallup more than doubled his reception totals, yards total, and touchdown totals from a year ago. In a season that was riddled with a lot of disappointment, it was great to see the Cowboys young receiver have such a strong season.
6. A little too late
Kicker Kai Forbarth knocked down another four field goals on Sunday, making him a perfect 10 for 10 in a Cowboys uniform. It’s a little bit of a bittersweet because with every converted kick that goes through the upright, it’s just another kick in the stomach that the Cowboys just waited too long to move on from Brett Maher.
Of course, nobody expected him to go lights out kicking the ball, and there was a reason he was available, so some of that is just hindsight talking. Even still, it leaves us wondering what could’ve been if they would’ve made the move sooner.
7. Punting game still laughable
It only seemed fitting to watch Chris Jones punt take an unfavorable bounce and roll back into Cowboys territory, but that’s the Cowboys punting game in a nutshell this season. The good news is that Dallas only punted two times, but they made sure to get next to nothing out of it.
And it’s not just the kicking that’s atrocious. Tavon Austin returned three punts on the day for a total of six yards. Six yards.
The Cowboys special teams unit has been a laughing stock all year and hopefully this is something that gets addressed next season.
8. Draft position set
The Cowboys finished the season with an 8-8 record. That positions them to draft 17th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Unlike last year, the team will have a first-round pick and they’ll be picking in the middle of each round.
9. 2020 Opponents set
Finishing second in the NFC East means they’ll be squaring off against the second-place team in the NFC North and NFC South next season. So rather than playing the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers next season, they’ll play the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons instead.
10. Embracing the moment
Jason Garrett’s time in Dallas may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t stop the Cowboys head coach from relishing every last moment. Despite being eliminated from the playoffs, Garrett exhibited a somber, yet joyful demeanor during his post game press conference. He expressed his love for this football team and how proud he was to stand in the locker room with his guys. He even was found tossing the rock around after the game.
Jason Garrett still out here playing QB for both teams pic.twitter.com/lLEMZLvHCB— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 30, 2019
Say what you want about JG, the guy embraces every moment life offers him.