ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys won this game like they've won so many others during their 10-game winning streak.
It was a lot of Ezekiel Elliott, a lot of Dak Prescott, especially in the second half, and behind a defense that does a lot of bending, but rarely breaks. Elliott had a couple of nice touchdown runs and Prescott's only TD pass was a thing of beauty to Terrance Williams.
But like all games, there were a handful of plays that could go unnoticed, yet changed the outcome. Let's take a closer look at five that affected this one.
Accepted penalty leads to miss – In the first quarter, the Cowboys coaching staff had a decision to make after forcing a third-and-13 from their 22-yard line. But they accepted a holding call on the Redskins, pushing them back to second-and-23. The Redskins only picked up 7 yards, thanks to a nice third-down stop from Justin Durant. It led to a 43-yard field goal attempt from Dustin Hopkins, who barely hooked the ball to the left. Had the Cowboys taken the penalty, it's likely Hopkins would've been able to connect for three points.
Failed Wildcat play stalls drive – The Redskins were knocking on the door to tie the game early in the second quarter. But on first-and-goal from the Dallas 5-yard line, the Redskins opted to use the Wildcat formation with running back Robert Kelley. He was stuffed by Byron Jones for a 1-yard loss, which put the Redskins into pass mode for the next two plays. Washington didn't convert on either try and settled for a field goal, keeping the Cowboys in the lead.
[embeddedad0]Safety drops potential interception – The Cowboys were on the move in the second quarter, but a deflected pass should've been intercepted by the Redskins. Safety Duke Ihenacho had the ball right in his hands but couldn't haul in the pick. Not only would that have been a turnover, but Ihenacho could've had a big return with Dez Bryant on the ground and a lot of running room ahead. Instead, the Cowboys hit a field goal to grab a 10-3 lead.
Zeke sneaks out of backfield – There were so many plays to choose from during the Cowboys' first fourth-quarter answer drive. Washington trimmed the lead to 17-12 but Dallas came right back with several chunk plays. After a 21-yard run by Elliott on first down, the rookie back faked a blitz pickup and found a spot in the middle of the field for a 19-yard gain to put the drive on full attack mode. The Cowboys kept up the pressure and scored on Prescott's scramble, giving Dallas a 24-12 lead.
Redskins decide to onside kick – After a quick touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson, the Redskins had the momentum again, trailing only 24-19 with 9:22 to play. But Washington tried to surprise the Cowboys with an onside kick. Linebacker Damien Wilson made a diving recovery to give Dallas possession. From there, a third-down run by Prescott, along with a 15-yard personal foul put the Cowboys back in position to score again.