The Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Commanders easily on Sunday by a score of 38-10. It was a good way to end the regular season for sure, but how much stock can we put into this game as the Commanders have now lost eight straight games? Despite the level of competition, it was still a good outing for the Cowboys. There was some turnover/special teams madness that kept Washington in the game early, but in the end, talent prevailed. Here’s what we learned after re-watching the game film.
THE EASY BUTTON
Sure, it was against a porous Commanders defense filled with a lot of depth guys, but it was nice to see the Cowboys’ offense take advantage. Their 440-yard performance was their second-highest output of the season. It wasn’t just that the Cowboys offense had their way with them, but how easy it was. So many times, Dak Prescott had quick routes at his fingertips and he worked it to perfection. Of course, it helps to have one of the best wide receivers in the game roaming around out there.
It's so nice to have a dynamic receiver like CeeDee Lamb who can run the entire route tree with such precision. I love all the quick stuff as Dak Prescott is never in a hurry. This is how you press the easy button for your quarterback. pic.twitter.com/QZYxlGKvfN— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
It wasn’t just CeeDee Lamb as Brandin Cooks was a thing on Sunday. He’s had one remarkable game in the middle of the year against the New York Giants (173 yards), but his usage has been moderate for the most part. But that could be changing as Prescott not only looked Cooks way more often but also earlier in his progressions. He’s become a quick short-yardage guy when they need it and now has three straight games with a touchdown catch.
This was the second-straight game that Brandin Cooks had at least five catches after only having that many catches once over his previous 14 games. I love it when they get this guy involved and that's going to be crucial for a strong postseason run. pic.twitter.com/mTgjlKxPmp— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
And let’s not forget Jake Ferguson. His route running has been very sharp as he can be found all over the field. His hands are soft and he continues to churn out extra yards after the catch.
And Jake Ferguson is as reliable of a tight end as they come. Whether it's to the outside or over the middle, Fergy continues to be a valuable asset to this Cowboys offense. pic.twitter.com/rQa4dQ98Yi— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
The trio of Lamb, Cooks, and Ferguson is a fierce group, and when Mike McCarthy dials up quick routes from all of them to mitigate protection issues, that makes it difficult for defenses to get off the field. The Cowboys never punted in this one and they moved the ball with ease.
And it wasn’t just the regular cast of pass catchers doing the work. Dak also looked to his running backs to contribute in the receiving game. The duo of Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle had five combined catches for 70 yards, with most of them coming on an easy catch and run down the sideline by Dowdle.
If Rico Dowdle catches this out in the flat, he's running for days. I love that the Cowboys went right back to him on the next play. If Washington wasn't going to stop it, might as well milk it. pic.twitter.com/GQollbCUlO— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
A LITTLE BIT OF ROOM IS ALL IT TAKES
Again, we’re prefacing this with the fact that Washington didn’t have a strong presence in the trenches, but it still was a good showing by the Cowboys' offensive line. Prescott was never sacked and he only felt pressure a couple of times. Backup guards T.J. Bass and Brock Hoffman played strong and were moving guys. And it was nice to see the running backs have a little space to get themselves going, and when that occurs, good things happen.
Give these guys an inkling of running room and look what they can do. Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle ran hard and all they need is a fighting chance. pic.twitter.com/2UdVItAdKn— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
How many UDFAs does it take to displace DaRon Payne?— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
Watch T.J. Bass and Hunter Luepke escort this Pro Bowl defensive tackle off the screen. pic.twitter.com/mN0s38khAG
THE QUIET VETERAN
We are so glad that Stephon Gilmore is expected to be fine for the playoffs as his contributions aren’t easily replaced. The guy plays hard but also relies heavily on his sharp football IQ, and on this day, his instincts were spot on. There were several instances where the Commanders had the Cowboys' defense zigging while they were zagging, but Gilmore wasn’t fooled. He stayed his post and came through with some nice plays, including a touchdown-saving pass breakup that almost was a pick.
Give the Commanders credit. They went deep in their bag to try to get the Cowboys' defense going the wrong way. Thank goodness we have a savvy corner like Stephon Gilmore who doesn't fall for that tomfoolery. pic.twitter.com/8ZqqN0fPM7— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
THE UNSUNG DEFENDER
If we had a nickel for every impact play that DeMarcus Lawrence made, we’d probably have enough money to re-sign him to another team-friendly deal. Tank has been splashy in recent weeks and that continued on Sunday. He had a two-play sequence where he got in Sam Howell’s face disrupting the pass. That’s sorta his thing.
DeMarcus Lawrence will never get the true respect he deserves. There's nothing to see here, just back-to-back pass deflections, one resulting in an interception. pic.twitter.com/37sbrFrEu1— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) January 9, 2024
CLARK MAKES AN APPEARANCE
The linebackers of the Cowboys have been under fire recently after a promising start to the season. That’s why it was nice to see them have good showings in this one. Both Damone Clark and Markquese Bell made plays in coverage and Clark worked past an offensive lineman to get just enough on the ball carrier to allow the cavalry to arrive.