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Point Blank

where the dominance began on this night. Washington mustered just 43 rushing yards on 18 attempts. You're not going to score much - or at all - if you average 2.4 yards per carry.  

The Cowboys can thank one Jay Ratliff for completely controlling the middle. And to think, there has been some talk rumbling through the talk radio in Dallas about Ratliff wearing down here in the last few weeks. That is undersized body to play nose tackle was starting to catch up to him.  

Well . . . not so much. Like a post player in the NBA, Ratliff controlled the middle of the defensive line, anchoring a stingy run defense, but also pressuring Campbell enough to record two sacks. On a play in the first quarter, Ratliff showed he has little in-game compassion for Campbell, a former Auburn teammate, when he crushed the Redskins quarterback, delivering one of many bruising shots to Campbell.  

With guys like Ratliff, Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware doing it on the front end, the secondary did its thing on the back side.  

Mike Jenkins continues to be the Cowboys' best cornerback, but that's only because he's elevated his game about 20 notches. I think it's important to point that out when discussing the Cowboys' corners. Jenkins has just improved more than any player on this team, and maybe in the entire league. Here's a guy who many people wanted to throw the "bust" label on after last year and pegged him to be the third-best corner. Now, he's clearly the first.  

And that's with Terence Newman having another very good season. He may not be the shut-down corner that everyone expects, but he shuts down enough to be considered one of the NFL's most consistent. While the knock on Newman is not making enough plays, he did come through with a big interception Sunday night, which led to a quick score.  

OK, so Washington doesn't have a high-powered offense. We see that. The Redskins scored just 27 touchdowns in 15 games so far. Yet none of those 27 scores have come against the Cowboys, who held them to just two field goals in the first meeting.  

The Redskins may not be lethal, but other offenses the Cowboys have played recently claim to be as such. But yielding 20 points to the Chargers is nothing to be ashamed of. Holding the Eagles to 16 points on the road was quite impressive, especially considering that DeSean Jackson was a non-factor in the first meeting. And of course, stopping Drew Brees and the Saints to just 17 points was a big deal - maybe not as big now that Tampa Bay went in and did the same exact thing on Sunday. 

Still, the point here is that the Cowboys have been very good on defense this year. They've been very good here in the last month of the season and once again, they were plenty good Sunday night against the Redskins.  

The inconsistencies of the Cowboys' offense might have some people calling it an ugly win. But a clinching a playoff spot, on the road, against a division rival and shutting them out in the process - that's much closer to a beautiful night than ugly.      

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