With the NFC East title and playoff berth clinched, goals for the regular season finale deviated from the norm. Sure, the surging Washington Redskins talked with sincerity all week about wanting to beat the Dallas Cowboys. The tone centered more on sustaining momentum rather than pure revenge for the Week 12 loss in this storied series. Still, some players would rest with next week's playoff game against the Packers, Vikings or Seahawks looming. Pure math made it obvious that several key players wouldn't suit up. Less clear? How much would those playing want to once the hitting started.
With Kirk Cousins remaining arguably the hottest quarterback in the NFL and the defense adding to its turnover total, Washington overcame the subtraction of a few key veterans and scant result-motivation with a divide and conquer performance.
Cousins threw three touchdown passes despite playing barely more than one quarter and the Redskins dominated the first half as they ended the season with a 34-23 win over the Cowboys Sunday afternoon in Dallas.
After punting on their first possessions, Washington (9-7) scored on its next four drives and entered halftime leading 24-0. Playing without left tackle Trent Williams and wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Cousins threw touchdown passes to Ryan Grant, Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder, and set up the first of two Dustin Hopkins field goals. He also capped his late season-growth by breaking several team records, including the single-season mark for passing yards. Cousins finished 12 of 15 for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
With Matt Jones among the inactives, Alfred Morris effectively help run out the clock in the second half, finishing with 100 yards on 19 carries.
Defensively, the Redskins blitzed and confused the Cowboys (4-12), leading to three first half turnovers including Will Compton's first half interception. Will Blackmon also picked off Dallas quarterback Kellen Moore, who finished 33 of 48 for 435 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Colt McCoy replaced Cousins and connected with Rashad Ross for a 71-yard touchdown.
Ultimately, this game wasn't about the final score, though beating the Cowboys always works. This game or rather this week was about maintaining focus and momentum while hoping the injury report didn't grow. Based on the effort and desire shown throughout the game, the Redskins certainly accomplished the former.
* As for the injuries, defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett left in the first quarter with a possible concussion and did not return. Defensive back and special teams standout Dashaun Phillips was carted off the field and taken to a Dallas hospital for evaluation. The Redskin announced Phillips had movement in all his extremities.
* Morris reached 100 yards for the first time since totaling 121 yards against the Dolphins in Week 1.
* Crowder picked up the receiving slack with five receptions for 109 yards including a 44-yard catch to set up the first touchdown.
* Yes, Cousins improved as the season went along
* As for the playoffs, nothing will be determined until the Sunday night game between the Vikings and Packers. Previews of all the possible matchups below. The basics:
- The Packers travel to Washington if they lose Sunday night
- The Seahawks are the opponent if they win at Arizona and the Vikings lose
- The Vikings face the Redskins if they lose and the Seahawks lose.
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