Rely on your defense, soften them up with the run, hit them with a downfield passing punch.
The game plan is one that both the Cowboys and the Washington Commanders like to employ, but it was Dallas who executed the design nearly to perfection in a 25-10 win over their NFC East rival.
Continuing to resurrect the greatness of famed Doomsday Defenses of the past, this 2022 version was again outstanding. As a unit, Dallas allowed only 155 yards passing while earning two sacks, 11 quarterback hits and six tackles for loss. In doing so, the Cowboys held their opponent to under 20 points for the fourth straight game, the first time doing so in the first four contests of a season since the original Doomsday Defense of 1973.
In addition, Trevon Diggs showed us once more why he's one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, posting his second interception in as many games but also breaking up two key passes on fourth down, including one in the end zone. He had plenty of help in the secondary as safeties Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker finished with nine and eight tackles, respectively.
With that kind of defensive support – as well as the Commanders being penalized 11 times for 136 yards in the game – Cooper Rush and the Cowboys offense were able to get the necessary points needed. Rush became the first Dallas quarterback in history to win his first four starts by completing 15 of 27 pass attempts for 223 yards and two touchdowns for an impressive 107.5 passer rating.
On the other end of many those throws was CeeDee Lamb, who posted 97 yards and a touchdown on six catches, his highest receiving total since Oct. 31, 2002, at Minnesota in what was Rush's first career win.
But hey, welcome back Michael Gallup. The wideout made his 2022 debut after missing the first three games recovering from a knee injury. All he did was total 24 receiving yards on two grabs, draw two pass interference penalties totaling another 65 yards and record a touchdown.
The Dallas defense brought the pressure early and often as Washington managed only 23 yards of offense in the first quarter, including just three yards passing, and couldn't get past their own 40-yard line.
That gave the offensive side a little breathing room as they opened the game with a 53-yard field from Brett Maher. That was his fourth field goal of at least 50 yards through four games, just two shy of the team record for one season.
On their third drive, the Cowboys again moved into enemy territory, thanks to back-to-back Rush completions to Lamb for 23 and 16 yards. Dallas, though, had to settle for another field goal, this coming on the first play of the second quarter, Maher's 45-yarder splitting the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
However, Washington finally got its offense going on its second possession of the second frame. With the field-position pendulum swinging to the visitor's side, they started at their own 35-yard line and went the 65-yard distance. The Commanders rushed four times, the big gain a 33-yard scamper by J.D. McKissic, and passed on another three snaps, the last a 10-yard loft from Carson Wentz to Jahan Dotson to give Washington the lead.
But then Rush and the Cowboys responded with a perfect drive to get back on top. The offense ran 15 plays and chewed up 6:01 of clock while marching 75 yards to pay dirt. Dallas did catch a break when a potential interception was negated due to an illegal contact penalty on Washington. Given a second chance, the Cowboys stayed on the move.
On third-and-8, Rush hit Gallup for a 15-yard gain, the receiver's first catch since coming back from a knee injury. The pair then capped off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown connection, Rush rolling to his right to avoid pressure before finding Gallup streaking across the back of the end zone. The ensuing extra point was blocked.
A Diggs interception, his second of the season, ended any last-second Washington threat, Dallas going into the break with a 12-7 advantage.
The second half began as a defensive battle with neither side able to get much going offensively in the opening minutes of the third quarter. But then lightning struck for the Cowboys when Rush threw deep to Noah Brown on first down, finding his target for a big 45-yard gain to the Washington 17-yard line. The team wasn't able to get into the end zone but Maher added to the tally with a 28-yard field goal.
Washington continued to keep it close, though, as Wentz and company were able to get down to the Cowboys' 17-yard line. A pair of penalties pushed the Commanders back, but they still were able to tack on a 45-yard field goal to keep the deficit at just five points, 15-10.
Any handwringing about the narrow score didn't last long. A second-and-8 from his own 27-yard line saw Rush try to go deep to Gallup, only to have Washington called for pass interference. Now at the Commanders' 35-yard line, the Cowboys needed only two more plays to cross the goal line. On the first play of the final quarter, Rush through a perfect strike to Lamb on a post route for a 30-yard touchdown.
Nothing comes easy, of course, and after Pro Bowl punter Bryan Anger shanked a punt from his own end zone, Washington was in business at the Cowboys' 30-yard line. But the Dallas defense did what the Dallas defense do. The Commanders inched their way to the Cowboys' 10-yard line, but on third-and-9, Dante Fowler charged in for the sack, which was then followed by Diggs breaking up a pass in the end zone on fourth down, Dallas taking over possession.
Everyone seemingly was getting into the defensive action. Rookie DaRon Bland had yet to play a defensive snap this season, but after Jourdan Lewis left with a groin injury, Bland stepped in and stepped up. He finished with three tackles and recorded his first career interception on the Commanders' next possession, giving Dallas the ball at Washington's 20-yard line.
That resulted in Maher's fourth field goal of the day, this time a 29-yarder to wrap up the scoring and seal the victory.
Riding a three-game winning streak, the Cowboys now face perhaps two of their toughest opponents on the schedule, at the Los Angeles Rams next weekend, followed by a trip to the rival Philadelphia Eagles in two weeks.