Division games on the road are never easy, especially in the long history of this NFC East rivalry. But there were times in this one when Dak Prescott sure made it look so.
In leading the Dallas Cowboys to a 31-21 victory at the Washington Redskins, the quarterback overcame a slow start to lead the team’s offense to another outstanding week of work. For the second straight game, the Cowboys earned points on five consecutive possessions and again put up 30 points.
Given that kind of production, Dallas dominated the stat sheet, finishing with 474 total yards of offense to just 255 for Washington. The Cowboys also converted 64 percent of their third-down opportunities and were 3-for-4 in red zone chances. They also held the time of possession, 33:22 to 26:38.
All of this was due in large part to Prescott, who needed a quarter to get going, but once he did, was nearly unstoppable. He completed 86.7 percent of his passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns for an impressive 123.5 passer rating.
And he spread the ball around, connecting with eight different receivers. That included Michael Gallup, who caught six passes for 68 yards and Devin Smith, who hauled in three throws for 74 more.
Prescott even made an impact on the ground, as he rushed five times for 69 yards, the second-highest total of his career. Of course, Ezekiel Elliott handled the heavy lifting in the run game, rushing 23 times for 111 yards, topping the century mark for the first time this season.
Surprisingly, given those numbers, it was again a slow start for the Cowboys. A quick first quarter came to an end scoreless, but with the Redskins knocking on the door. They started their third possession of the game on Dallas’ 38-yard line thanks to a pass that Prescott, avoiding pressure, threw slightly behind intended target Randall Cobb. Instead the ball tipped off the receiver’s hands and into the waiting arms of safety Montae Nicholson.
Washington needed 10 plays to go the short distance, but they eventually reached the end zone, Adrian Peterson plunging off right tackle for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The interception aside, the Cowboys just couldn’t do much of anything on offense through their first three series. And not helping matters was the fact that each of those possessions started on their own 10-, 10- and 25-yard lines.
So when the Dallas offense then started its fourth try at its own 3-yard line midway through the second quarter, the situation was seemingly set up for things to only get worse. But that’s when Prescott took over, the quarterback guiding his team to putting points on the board on each of the Cowboys’ next five series.
Working quickly, Prescott ran for 15 yards and threw passes for 9 and 10 more to help his offense get out to the Dallas 49-yard line. That’s when he then cut loose with a 51-yard connection to Devin Smith for the touchdown, the catch by Smith his first since the 2016 season, due to injuries.
What followed was more Prescott magic when the Cowboys got the ball back with 4:32 remaining in the second quarter. This time it came in the form of a career-long 42-yard run, Prescott breaking loose around the left end down and scampering down to the Redskins’ 21-yard line.
Helped by a couple of Redskins penalties, the drive was eventually capped with Prescott finding Jason Witten to his right, the tight end stepping over the goal line for the 70th touchdown of his career to give Dallas a 14-7 lead going into halftime.
No matter the break, the Cowboys and Prescott picked up right where they left off as the third quarter got underway. On their opening drive, the quarterback was 5-for-5 for 64 yards in leading his team 75 yards down the field in nine plays to the end zone. This time it was Amari Cooper getting the honors, the receiver hauling in a pass for the 10-yard score.
Since his interception, Prescott was now 13-for-15 for 155 yards with three touchdowns to three different receivers.
Washington wasn’t going to go away quietly, though. The home side came right back with an 11-play, 75-yard drive of its own, a series that was highlighted with a fourth-and-7 conversion at the Dallas 31-yard line. That was soon followed by Case Keenum dumping off to Paul Richardson for the 9-yard touchdown, the score narrowing briefly to 21-14 as the clock ticked over into the fourth quarter.
But that would be the last hurrah for the Redskins, as Washington’s defense just had no answer for the Cowboys offense. Dallas would respond with a 25-yard field goal from Brett Maher on its next possession, after having another touchdown negated due to a penalty, and then reached pay dirt yet again. This time Elliott got into the act as he barreled his way into the end zone from 2 yards out.
And on those two drives, Prescott continued his brilliance as he was 9-for-9 on his pass attempts for 95 more yards.
With that, the game was essentially over, although Washington did reach the end zone one more time late to make the score a little more respectable, 31-21. Regardless, the Cowboys headed home with their first 2-0 start since the 2017 season, having totaled at least 30 points in each of their first two outings for the first time since the 2009 campaign.