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GAME RECAP: Cowboys Capture NFC East With 42-7 Win Over Colts

Say hello to your 2014 NFC East champs.

The Cowboys entered the game knowing that with a win over the Colts, they could capture the division crown thanks to Philadelphia's 27-24 loss at Washington the day before. Not wanting to let this carry over to yet another final-week decision, Dallas took care of business with a 42-7 win over Indianapolis in front of a rowdy and loud crowd of 91,899.

Conversely, the Colts actually clinched the AFC South last week, and with star receiver T.Y. Hilton sitting out due to injury, the team as a whole didn't seem overly interested in putting up much of a fight.

Given what was on the line for the two sides and each team's motivation (or lack thereof), the result was perhaps not all that surprising. The Cowboys not only dominated on the scoreboard, but on the stat sheet as well, putting up 377 total yards to just 229 for the Colts with 25 first downs and a time of possession of 35:29.

The biggest question going into the game was whether running back DeMarco Murray would be able to take the field after suffering a broken left hand the previous Sunday against Philadelphia. A game-time decision, he did wind up playing and grinded for a tough 58 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown, his score only adding to his single-season career high of 12.

Through the air, Tony Romo was simply fantastic, completing 18-of-20 passes for 218 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He now has 10 scoring tosses and no picks in his last three games, his 32 touchdowns for the season the second most of his career (36 in 2007).

Four different players were on the receiving end of Romo's touchdowns: Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. Witten led the team with seven catches for 90 yards while Bryant added five more for 73 yards.

And the Dallas defense did its part, limiting Andrew Luck, one of the best young quarterbacks in the game today, to only 109 passing yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns. The unit created three turnovers and held a Colts offense that came into the day averaging 30.3 points per contest to just 7 points, which were scored in garbage time.

By that time the outcome had long since been decided. Dallas found paydirt on each of its first four possessions in the game, taking advantage of Indianapolis' mistake-filled play.

The first of which came on the Cowboys' opening drive when they were facing a third-and-11 at the Indy 48. Running back Lance Dunbar was seemingly dropped for a 4-yard loss, but Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who made the tackle, was then called for taunting, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.

That allowed Dallas to go back to work with Romo eventually finding Williams on a crossing route for a 9-yard touchdown pass and an early lead. In all, the series lasted 15 plays and ate up 8:24 of clock.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Cowboys' next score took all of seven seconds. After Indianapolis botched a fake punt, gunner Dewey McDonald flat-out dropping a wide-open pass that would have given the Colts the first down, Romo connected with Bryant on Dallas' first play from scrimmage, the star receiver leaping high to pull down the pass.

Poor tackling on Indy's part led to the Cowboy's next score, which came with less than one minute gone in the second quarter. Romo found Beasely cutting across the middle, who escaped the grasp of a would-be Indy tackler and then darted into the end zone for a 24-yard score, Dallas now firmly in control, 21-0.

That would soon enough be bumped up to 28-0 after the Colts went three-and-out yet again, this time Murray handling the workload with seven carries for 24 yards on the 10-play drive. Jason Witten also hauled in two passes during the series for a combined 29 yards, the second of which put Dallas at first-and-goal on the 1-yard line. That left it to Murray to plunge across for the touchdown.

The game now well in hand, the only questions remaining were whether Romo and Murray could each surpass a pair of individual Cowboys records.

Romo entered Sunday's affair just 189 yards shy of Troy Aikman's record for the most career passing yards in team history. History was inevitable, but Romo moved into first in style, hitting longtime teammate Witten up the seam for a 25-yard touchdown pass at the 4:41 mark of the third quarter.

For Murray, he came into the game needing only 87 yards to eclipse Emmitt Smith's team mark for most rushing yards in a season, 1,773 set in 1995. But nursing his broken hand that required surgery just six days ago, and with the lopsided look of the scoreboard, Murray's day was brought to an early end so he could rest. He'll need only 29 more yards in the season finale to eclipse the Hall of Famer's record.

Those to milestones determined, the fourth quarter was left to the backups on both sides, each team content to come out of the game healthy. Williams had himself a day with his second touchdown of the game, but the second-stringers couldn't hold the shutout, the Colts scoring with just over five minutes left to close out the scoring, 42-7.

With the victory, the Cowboys have now won the NFC East 22 times in their 54-year history. They will wrap up the regular season by traveling to the 4-11 Washington Redskins next week, a team that defeated them in their first meeting on Oct. 27.

Dallas could conceivably still earn a first-round bye in the postseason, although tiebreakers make it likely that they'll finish with the third seed in the NFC and host a wild-card game in the first round of the playoffs.


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