The Dallas Cowboys came into the game against the Washington Football Team having already clinched the NFC East thanks to the weird tiebreaker rules and a Las Vegas Raiders win over the Denver Broncos. But they still had business to take care of with a chance at the number one seed still possible. And take care of business they did, just blowing the doors off the Football team 56-14. It was not only a huge win, and an emphatic assertion that they are the best in the division, it answered many of the concerns about the offense in recent games. This team is aiming to do more than just appear in the first week of the playoffs. If they can continue to play at this level, that should be more than just possible.
The only thing to really go bad for the Cowboys in the first half came on their first drive after Washington had deferred, which stalled after six plays when Amari Cooper bobbled a lateral from Cedrick Wilson. Had he fielded it cleanly, it would likely have extended that drive. Instead, Dallas punted. And that rapidly turned into a disaster for Taylor Heinicke as Trevon Diggs intercepted a deep pass intended for Terry McLaurin. He was running the route better than the receiver, and got his eleventh of the year.
That set the Cowboys up on their own 29. A couple of Ezekiel Elliott plays got a first down at their own 46. Dak Prescott worked the team efficiently down the field, mostly out of no huddle, and capped the drive off with a pass to Elliott to take the lead. And that was just the beginning.
After getting a first down, Heinicke was under heavy pressure to lead to a punt that CeeDee Lamb returned 21 yards from his own five. Tony Pollard saw action and would get things going. Another nice march down the field ended with a nine yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schultz as Prescott really began to spread the ball around. The touchdown was nicely set up by having Connor McGovern in as fullback to sell the run.
It was 14-0 in favor of Dallas with over three minutes left in the first quarter, and then came a play that may have broken the will of the Football Team. Facing third and seven, Heinicke tried to pass, but DeMarcus Lawrence batted the ball up and then brought it in. He headed the other way and tight-roped down the sideline for a 40-yard pick six.
Washington found a moment of life after a deep pass to Dyami Brown for 48 yards. It would lead to an eight-yard scoring pass to Antonio Gibson. But Prescott would evade pressure and find Michael Gallup for 40 yards on third and seven. This drive would end in another Elliott touchdown, this one on the ground as he swung left and just got into the end zone from the 11-yard line.
Diggs was not the only player adding to his totals on the year, as Micah Parsons notched his thirteenth sack to help stop Washington on the next series. The Cowboys went on an 80-yard march and finished with a bit of trickeration as Terence Steele reported as eligible on a play from the one-yard line, and leaked out for a wide open catch from Prescott to score.
For weeks we have been fretting about the sputtering Dallas offense, despite coming in on a three game win streak. Now they already had 35 points as Prescott was on fire. He had 21 completions on only 23 attempts for 245 yards and three TDs. But they were not about to let up on things yet. The defense delivered another three and out, and they had the ball back at their own 11 with 1:42 left until halftime. The Cowboys would ride Prescott’s arm for every play of the drive. They got to the Washington 40 and had a fourth and two with just eighteen seconds left. Mike McCarthy, naturally, did not hesitate, and a completion to Schultz with an unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on set them up at the 13-yard line. Amari Cooper had complained about wanting to be more involved in the offense leading up to the game. He already had six catches to this point, and was rewarded with a touchdown reception just inside the front left corner of the end zone.
It was a total domination. The Cowboys had a 42-7 lead at halftime, with 388 yards of total offense. 320 of those were in the passing game as the running attack was not really needed. Their defense had limited the Football Team to just 128 yards. Prescott had used nine different receivers, including Steele. They had scored on every trip into the red zone. It was more than enough to answer almost every question about this offense. And the defense was just living up to their reputation, with takeaways and a score of their own while beating Heinicke up play after play.
It was also a level of intensity that was hard to maintain. No one should complain about the offense not doing nearly as much after halftime. The first two possessions after halftime ended in punts. But there are three phases to the game, and the special teams wanted in on this party. After yet another sack put Washington on their own ten-yard line and having to punt, Corey Clement came flashing through the line and blocked the kick, which bounced right into the hands of Chauncey Golston as he crossed the end zone line.
It was now 49-7, and still the third quarter. With nothing really to gain from not doing so, the staff sat Prescott and put Cooper Rush in with 1:38 left until the fourth started. All he had to do was take care of the ball. Apparently no one told him or Malik Turner. Turner turned a short pass into a weaving 61-yard gain to the Football Team 14-yard line. Then two plays later Rush found him for a nine-yard scoring pass.
If you lost count (which is understandable) that made the score a whopping 56-7 in one of the greatest beatdowns ever administered by a Cowboys team. Both teams were putting in their backups by now as the results were more than assured. It was almost painful to watch the way the guys in burgundy were getting manhandled. Almost. But after things like the great bench wars, it was just fun for Dallas fans. We saw the established stars shine, backups get a moment in the spotlight, and even got to see rookie Kelvin Joseph in his first real action in the absence of Jourdan Lewis, including some nice plays in coverage and a tackle for a loss in the fourth quarter.
Admittedly, they were playing a team with a severely compromised roster and coming off just four days rest after having to play on Tuesday due to a COVID delayed game. Still, this was one for the record books. Courtesy of my podcast partner Roy White, here are some historic marks for the Cowboys - with 12 minutes left to play.
The Cowboys are now 11-4, and still very much on the heels of the Green Bay Packers for the number one seed. They are peaking at the ideal time. Further, they have just served notice to the rest of the NFL that, no matter what some may have said in recent weeks, you do not want Dallas.
At the time of this post’s publishing we are LIVE on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel for our Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show. You can join us or catch the re-watch below:
Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel (which you can do right here) so you don’t miss any of our videos!