LANDOVER, MD – The Cowboys had a few bad breaks early in the first half and so found themselves in a close game. But sticking to the course, they were able to regroup and pull away with a convincing victory to finish the regular season at 12-5 and win the NFC East.
Still, there were a few plays that could've changed the course of the game that might go unnoticed but were difference-makers in the outcome.
Fourth-down stop by Clark, defense – The Cowboys didn't have a lot of success stopping the Commanders on fourth down, but on Washington's first possession of the game, the offense got to the Dallas 31-yard line, thanks to one fourth-down conversion already during the drive. It was clear the Commanders were trying to shake it up with trick plays and playing loose. But on fourth-and-2, the Commanders were stopped on another reverse play, first by linebacker Damone Clark and then a host of defenders, to take over on downs. That not only stopped Washington from getting some early momentum, but the Cowboys took over and promptly drove for a touchdown.
Late hit from Washington LB on Lamb – The Cowboys trailed, 10-7, in the second quarter and didn't exactly have momentum on their side. After a first-down pass to CeeDee Lamb for 8 yards, the Commanders were flagged for a 15-yard penalty when linebacker Cody Barton was called for a late hit on Lamb to his helmet. The extra 15 yards pushed the ball up to Washington's 48. The Cowboys then needed just six plays to get into the end zone on a 1-yard run by Tony Pollard and take the lead.
Dowdle's dropped pass before the catch – What's the saying again? If at first you don't succeed … try again? The Cowboys took it to heart just before halftime when Dak Prescott threw a pass to Rico Dowdle in the left flat. He was wide open but dropped the ball with a lot of green grass in front of him. But on second down, Dallas ran the exact same play and Prescott again threw it to the running back, who caught it this time and rumbled 32 yards down the sideline. That got the Cowboys in position to score again, pushing their lead to 21-10 at halftime.
Consecutive third-and-5 conversions – Let's go with two plays here that occurred close to each other in the early third quarter. Leading 21-10, the Cowboys needed to establish a drive to take complete control. On a third-and-5, Prescott hit Lamb for 10 yards to get near midfield. Later, a third-and-5 was converted on a 7-yard pass to Jake Ferguson. That extended the drive that led to a touchdown by Lamb, giving Dallas an 18-point lead.
Parsons' sack puts game away – Not that a 28-10 lead wasn't already in command, but the Cowboys were able to put the Commanders away after a third-down sack by Micah Parsons midway through the third quarter. The 9-yard loss forced a punt that was blocked by Peyton Hendershot. Dallas took over at the 9, and after two penalties, still managed to score on a pass to Brandin Cooks, giving the Cowboys a 35-10 lead.