After getting stomped by the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers, and failing to score double-digits in each of those games, the last thing the Dallas Cowboys could afford was another nationally televised beatdown. Lose to Washington like that, in primetime, and we might have actually seen Jerry Jones get so overheated he goes full Raiders of the Lost Ark face melt.
But fortunately for Jones, the Cowboys, and TV viewers, we never saw that in their 38-14 win. Because the Cowboys and their running game finally showed up. And because Washington didn’t show up at all. I know they’re banged up, but they played like a team that had something else on their minds or somewhere else to be. They didn’t even bother getting off the bus. They played like their season was already over. And now it is.
In fact, the first quarter couldn’t have looked any worse for either team and for the sport of football. Dallas 3-and-out followed by a Washington punt followed by a Dallas 3-and-out. Washington manages to put together a drive, only for a pass to clang off the hands of Jamison Crowder and into the mitts of Cowboys safety Jeff Heath. But yet again, Dallas couldn’t do anything and punted. And yet again, Crowder couldn’t give it back fast enough, this time fumbling the punt. What a brutal night for Crowder. In that sequence, the last two times he’d touched the ball, he’d turned it over.
Dallas recovered on the Washington 43 and surely they’d be able to get something out of this. And they did. They got one yard on three plays and punted.
At this point, it was clear Washington couldn’t give the game away fast enough and Dallas just didn’t want to take it. That first quarter was as ugly as any in the Cowboys losing streak. They couldn’t run. They couldn’t pass. They couldn’t do anything. Fortunately, they weren’t playing Atlanta, Philadelphia, or Los Angeles, teams that can make you pay for mistakes. They were playing Washington who was happy to match them, mistake for mistake.
But then, something changed. Dallas forced another punt, Dak Prescott went to work and finally found Jason Witten for this for their first touchdown.
Washington fumbled on the next drive, Dallas got a field goal, and then on the ensuing possession, Washington punted and then the wheels came off:
Switzer with the dagger. 17-0 Cowboys.
And the way that Kirk Cousins was running for his life, there was no way that Washington was getting back into that game. That doesn’t mean he didn’t try. He did. And if you had any doubt about the toughness of Cousins before that game, you shouldn’t anymore. Because he was getting absolutely wrecked, and just kept getting up and throwing punches. I’m no expert and I’m not going to tell Washington how to do their job, but if you think you can find a better quarterback than Kirk Cousins, you’re fooling yourself. And even if you did, he’d probably get killed behind that MASH unit of an offensive line.
But this wasn’t about Kirk Cousins, or about Washington. It was about Dallas, and Dak, who played through a jacked up hand. And Jason Garrett, who coached his way off the hot seat for a few days, and about Jerry Jones. Because trust me, if it’s about the Cowboys, it’s about Jerry Jones. Even if it’s not about Jerry Jones, Jerry Jones will make it about Jerry Jones.
And he was ready after the game with whatever you needed. Want a medical opinion on Dak’s hand? Jerruh’s here: “You could tell that it was very swollen. It actually looked like he started throwing better after it swelled up. But that’s him. He’s such a competitor, and his team knows it. He’s a leader out there.”
Want a full analysis of the game and the team’s playoff chances? He’s got that, too: “You’re talking to a dreamer, so yes. It’s not hard for me to look at the way we played, the way we answered the bell, the way we answered the bell in the second half with the players we got. We do get Sean Lee back by all measure and we will have players back as we look ahead. … Any of these teams in the NFL can beat you, but I think we’ve got a good chance as I look ahead certainly no further than our next ballgame. But we’ve got a good chance to be better after this game.”
I’m not sure what he actually meant with that word salad, but I’m guessing he’s not feeling lower than a crippled cricket’s ass. For one night, he and his crew didn’t get embarrassed on national TV and he’s happy about it.