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5 Stars from the Cowboys 38-10 over Commanders

Which Cowboys had the best performance against Washington in your opinion?

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Commanders Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The stars in Dallas shined bright in the regular-season finale, while it’s not so sunny in Philadelphia. The Cowboys’ blowout of the Washington Commanders and the implosion of the Philadelphia Eagles, secured the NFC East division crown and the second seed in the playoffs for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys did have some hiccups along the way, but by early in the third quarter of the game, the Cowboys were entirely in control against Washington. Since it was such a dominating performance, it’s only fitting to make an exception and highlight some pairs that worked very well in tandem versus individual stars. Therefore, today’s five stars will be a little different.

Dak Prescott/CeeDee Lamb

Pregame conditions were less than ideal for the Cowboys on two fronts. The weather at the field was windy, and the Cowboys were without 2/5 of their starting offensive line. However, that didn’t stop Prescott from torching the Washington Commanders secondary. His decision-making from the pocket was excellent, and his footwork was just as impressive. He scanned the field, made the right the right reads, and put the ball where it had to be.

His lone blemish was a tipped pass for an interception, but otherwise, Prescott was sensational. He was 31/36 (86%) on his passing attempts for 279 yards and a QBR of 94.6. He also made several throws from outside the pocket, as he has done all season, and kept his foot on the gas against a Commanders team that was ready to hit the road for the offseason.

This was his best play of the day.

Prescott extended the play from the snap for about eight seconds as he bought time to give his receivers room separate from the pass coverage. He signaled for his receiver to move slightly and then manipulated the defense with his eyes before firing the ball to Lamb for the score. After his fourth touchdown pass for the day, Prescott was serenaded by the “home crowd” in Washington with chants of MVP. The people may have a case. Prescott leads the NFL with 36 passing touchdowns and a 69.5 completion percentage.

As the previous tweet suggests, there isn’t a better connection in the NFL than between CeeDee Lamb and Dak Prescott. The two have a synergy with one another that has seen Lamb flourish as a premier weapon, let alone a wide receiver. Prescott targeted Lamb 13 times, and Lamb caught all of them for 98 yards and two scores for a passer rating of 137.6 when targeting Lamb. Lamb can play from any receiver position, and there is no answer for how to contain him. The Commanders learned the hard way. Lamb’s performance in Week 18 caps off a season where he led the NFL in receptions (135) and the NFC in receiving yards with 1749.

Jake Ferguson/Peyton Hendershot

Even before the Cowboys added Luke Schoonmaker in the second round of this year’s draft and Dalton Schultz ultimately signed with the Houston Texans; the Cowboys had a pretty good stable of tight ends primarily because of the rookie performances of Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot. While some may opine that Brandin Cooks is Dak Prescott’s second-favorite target, it might be Ferguson. Once again, Ferguson was second on the team in targets, catching all six for 69 yards.

His receptions included a big fourth down across the middle on a pass he caught away from his body. He also caught a pass in the flat following a play-action bootleg from Prescott where he eluded tackles before barreling into the defense for a first down. As for Peyton Hendershot, his lone catch of the day was a highlight reel moment. Hendershot caught a pass from Cooper Rush down the sideline and hopped over Emmanuel Forbes for a 24-yard pickup. Hendershot also broke through the Washington punt team to block the punt of Tress Way.

Brock Hoffman/T.J. Bass

Brock Hoffman and T.J. Bass were pressed into the starting lineup by the team because of the absence of Tyler Smith and Zack Martin. Smith was a long shot to play, having suffered a foot injury last week. However, Martin’s absence was much more sudden because of illness. Nevertheless, the pair of backups were ready to play.

There was a different aura to the offensive line on Sunday. That’s no slight at Zack Martin and Tyler Smith, who have plenty of “dog” in them, but the offensive line dominated the trenches behind Hoffman and Bass. Hoffman played with a tenacity reminiscent of Martin. He did all he could to get to the second level of the Commanders’ defense and, in one instance, almost blocked Tony Pollard right into the end zone for a touchdown.

Bass continued his excellent play in relief of the starting offensive line against the Commanders. The run game looked as effective as it had been in a very long time, and it was because of blocks by Bass at the point of attack. Tyler Smith’s status for this week is yet to be decided, but now we have some promising games from Bass to give the fans and the coaches confidence Bass can hold things down in the meantime.

Rico Dowdle/Tony Pollard

Sunday was a glimpse into what the backfield can look like with a few more opportunities for Rico Dowdle and improved run blocking. Tony Pollard looked like his old self. He set up his blocks well and made several lateral, sharp cuts to open space with fresh legs. Pollard also chipped in with a great catch on a wheel route that he managed to wrestle away from a Washington defender.

Rico Dowdle did it through the air and on the ground. He ran strong behind his pads and showcased some deceptive speed as he ran away from the Commanders defense. Dowdle’s biggest play was a 32-yard catch and run coming out of the backfield. Plus, he did more than run routes in the passing game.

The Cowboys running backs combined for 186 yards from scrimmage. Couple a few carries from CeeDee Lamb and KaVontae Turpin and the Cowboys have one of the most diverse backfields in the playoffs. Don’t be surprised to see Pollard and Dowdle on the field together in some plays in the postseason.

Defense

It’s hard to spotlight just a few players on defense that stood out because several made impactful plays. We're placing the entire defense as a star of the game because of what the unit’s collaborative effort says of the defense’s depth. Take DeMarcus Lawrence, for example. Lawrence has always been known to be a disruptive force defending the run but never garnered the respect he deserves as a pass rusher, often overshadowed by Micah Parsons. Against Washington, he was just a step away from Sam Howell and forced Howell into an interception that fell into the hands of Donovan Wilson while recording two passes defended.

Jourdan Lewis fell out of favor with some fans who had an eye on other options at the slot cornerback spot. Still, Lewis has recorded a turnover in consecutive weeks after ripping the football away from Commanders running back Brian Johnson for a fumble he recovered. DaRon Bland has flourished as a boundary cornerback and grabbed his league-leading ninth interception on Sunday. Dante Fowler, who has ten sacks over the last two years, had 1.5 against the Commanders. Fowler produces despite playing 30% of the defensive snaps in 2022 and 25% this year.

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