And with that, one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history comes to an end.
The Dallas Cowboys at least took care of business in their final game of the regular season, defeating the Washington Redskins soundly, 47-16, to finish the year at 8-8. But unable to clinch the NFC East last week at Philadelphia, the team no longer controlled its own destiny
Thus, the Cowboys had to rely on the outcome of the Eagles' game against the New York Giants, and unfortunately, Philadelphia took care of its own business as well. The Eagles brushed aside New York, 34-17, to capture the division title with a 9-7 mark and knock the Cowboys out the playoffs.
Which sullied a dominating performance by Dallas against what was truthfully a hapless Redskins team. There were many stars for the Cowboys as Ezekiel Elliott rushed 18 times for 122 yards and two touchdowns with Michael Gallup hauling in five passes for 98 yards and a career-high three scores.
With Amari Cooper adding 92 receiving yards and Randall Cobb another 81, Dak Prescott enjoyed a huge day against the banged-up Washington defense. The quarterback completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 303 yards, four touchdowns and a 138.0 passer rating. Behind those efforts, the Cowboys racked up 517 total yards of offense, the third time this season they topped the 500-yard mark.
Defensively, the Cowboys stayed the course, limiting the Redskins to 271 total yards while collecting a pair of sacks, seven tackles for loss and two turnovers. The defense allowed just 1-of-12 third down conversions and stopped Washington on all three of its fourth down attempts.
But while the Dallas defense came out strong, the team's offense struggled somewhat to move the ball at first. Each of the Redskins' first two possessions ended with the Cowboys forcing a turnover. The first came when linebacker Jaylon Smith pulled down his first interception of the season, which gave the Cowboys the ball at Washington's 36-yard line.
That was then followed by linebacker Malcolm Smith stripping the ball away from Adrian Peterson on the Redskins' next series, the fumble recovered by safety Xavier Woods, who returned it to the opponent's 21-yard line.
But despite the prime field position, the Cowboys could only manage field goals on both occasions. Kai Forbath split the uprights from 28 and 47 yards out to give the home side a 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
Before the end of the half, though, the Cowboys were able to take a double-digit lead over the Redskins. Washington got on the board with a 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter, but Dallas responded with a pair of Elliott touchdowns on its next two possessions.
The first was a seven play, 75-yard drive that was highlighted by a 48-yard catch by Cooper, the receiver making a spectacular leaping grab between two defenders. Two plays later, Prescott scrambled to his left and then zipped a 13-yard pass to Elliott, who tip-toed the end-zone sideline for the game's first touchdown.
Elliott's next score was also a thing of beauty, but this time the running back did the work himself. Taking the handoff, he darted his way through the defense, barreling across the goal line to complete the 33-yard rush – his longest run of the season – and give the Cowboys a 20-3 advantage.
With 3:45 remaining in the half, however, that was enough time for the Redskins to get their offense cranked up one more time. After a facemask penalty on Smith negated a sack on third-and-9 and instead gave Washington the first down, quarterback Case Keenum completed his next six passes for 46 yards. The last of those was a 6-yard completion to Steven Sims for the touchdown, the score narrowed to 20-10 at the break.
And when the Redskins then took the opening possession of the third quarter and marched right down for a 42-yard field goal, the momentum seemed all with the visitors. Needless to say, things were getting interesting.
That's when the game turned into the Michael Gallup show, as the receiver scored touchdowns on three of the Cowboys' next four possessions. The first came after Prescott completed passes of 21, 23 and 17 yards before eventually connecting with Gallup from 4 yards out for the touchdown, the receiver coming down just in bounds on a pretty, leaping grab for the score.
As nice a catch as that was, Gallup's next score was perhaps even better. The two teams had traded field goals when the Cowboys found themselves with the ball again – although they didn't have it long. All the offense needed was four plays to get into the end zone, courtesy of Gallup, who on third-and-2 at the Washington 32-yard line took a pass underneath, amazingly kept his feet after spinning out of a low tackle attempt and then raced down the left sideline for the touchdown.
Of course, three plays was all that was needed on the team's first possession of the fourth quarter as this time Gallup grabbed a quick slant and burst past the defense for an easy 45-yard score.
The game already decided, there was nothing left to do but play out the clock. Forbath added another field goal late, finishing 9-for-9 on his field goal and extra point attempts on the day, to round out the scoring, 47-16.
Not that it seemingly mattered. Even though the Cowboys dominated in their victory, the day ended in disappointment, as the Eagles' win over the Giants brought Dallas' season to an end. Now the attention turns to the many questions that will need to be answered during the upcoming offseason, one that began much too soon for a Cowboys team that entered the 2019 campaign with Super Bowl aspirations.