Cowboys vs. Washington Football Team: Dallas blows out Washington after clinching NFC
That sound you hear is a dead body hitting the floor, after the Dallas Cowboys stole the entire soul of the Washington Football Team en route to using a 56-14 mauling of their division rival to leap to 11-4 on the season (and it was actually far worse than the final score would indicate). Those wondering if the Cowboys would take their foot off of the accelerator on Sunday night after having clinched the NFC East prior to kickoff were sadly mistaken, and in large part because head coach Mike McCarthy made sure his team understood there are bigger goals at hand, and the main one of appearing in the Super Bowl would be aided greatly by landing the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
With their demolition of WFT, the Cowboys remain in the No. 2 seat in the conference and just one game back of the top-seeded Green Bay Packers — allowing no margin for error for either in their final two regular-season contests. For Washington, it’s a much different picture, as they lick their wounds and try to figure out how to end on a positive note this season, if they can.
The Cowboys eviscerated Washington with surgical precision and all Ron Rivera and his bunch of unmerry men could do one day after Christmas was to start building their wish list for 2022, because Santa gave them a lump of coal in 2021.
If this is the version of the Cowboys that enter the playoffs, watch out.
Why the Cowboys won
They turned a rematch with a division rival into what can only be described as a snuff film. This was euthanasia in all three phases of football, and Washington went on to see their playoff hopes buried in spectacular fashion at the hands of the Cowboys. Prescott set the stadium on fire with 320 passing yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, a 142.6 passer rating and 21 rushing yards on four attempts in the first half alone, and one of his touchdowns went to Terence Steele, his starting left tackle in the absence of All-Pro Tyron Smith. Add that to two interceptions, three sacks and a defensive touchdown by DeMarcus Lawrence in the first half, and it all led to a 42-7 shellacking before the third quarter ever got underway.
Things weren’t much different in the second half, because although the Cowboys offense cooled a bit, the special teams unit heated up. Late in the third quarter, after one of the many stalled drives by Washington, running back Corey Clement burst through the punt protection to land Dallas’ third blocked punt of the season, and rookie defensive lineman Chauncey Golston scooped it up for the second Cowboys touchdown scored off of one of those blocked punts in 2021.
It was not-so-arguably the most complete game of the season played by a team that’s seen its usually-prolific offense struggle mightily for nearly two months before climbing out of the grave to grab WFT by the neck and toss them into the very grave they climbed out of.
Why Washington lost
They found out the hard way that the Cowboys weren’t letting off of the accelerator in Week 16, despite having already clinched the NFC East crown ahead of kickoff. After an uneven start yet again for the Cowboys’ offense on the first drive from scrimmage, Taylor Heinicke dropped back for his first pass and it was a deep toss inhaled by Trevon Diggs — for the 11th interception of his historic season. Dak Prescott used the mulligan to drive down the field and find Ezekiel Elliott for a 5-yard touchdown catch, and things only got worse for Washington from there.
After another failed drive by Heinicke and Co., Prescott and used big plays by CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper to walk Ron Rivera’s defense down the field before finding tight end Dalton Schultz for the Cowboys’ second touchdown of the night. Apparently, however, Lawrence remembered the friendly wager with Prescott and decided the defense needed to find their way into the end zone as well. So Lawrence mimicked what Randy Gregory did to Washington in Week 14, but added points to it, by tipping a Heinicke pass upward, then intercepting it and running it into the end zone to make it a three-touchdown lead for the Cowboys in the first quarter.
By the time backup quarterback Cooper Rush took the field before the fourth quarter, it was all head coach Mike McCarthy could do to not start reading a eulogy on the field. The good news for Rivera is the big bad Cowboys can’t hurt his team anymore in 2021.
Diggs set the tone early with his interception, but Lawrence made sure WFT understood this would be a demolition.
Play of the Game
Nothing tops a fat man touchdown — nothing.
Ain’t no party like a TD party
“You get a touchdown …[and] you get a touchdown …” — Jane Slater of NFL Network
The Cowboys will look to keep the wins coming in a pivotal NFC matchup against the slumping Arizona Cardinals, while Washington crawls east with the hopes of avoiding being swept by the Philadelphia Eagles.