The Washington Commanders’ up-and-down season came to a close Sunday inside FedEx Field with a 26-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Fresh off last week’s playoff elimination, Washington (8-8-1) dominated from the start, getting an early lead thanks to miscues by Dallas (12-5) that never truly stopped.
While it was a week too late for their playoff hopes, the Commanders turned in a strong performance that left no doubts regarding who was more prepared to play.
Here are three takeaways from Washington’s victory over Dallas …
HOWELL RIDES ROLLERCOASTER TO FIRST VICTORY
Rookie quarterback Sam Howell was thrust onto the field to face a team still fighting for the NFC East title and playoff seeding … while having never taken a professional snap – and by all accounts, he did his job.
After going six of 10 for 66 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the first half, Howell had more command over the final 30 minutes, finishing 11 of 19 for 169 yards while adding a rushing touchdown. He wasn’t sacked after halftime and threw a stellar deep ball to receiver Terry McLaurin for a 52-yard gain.
From the highs of throwing a touchdown on his first career pass attempt to the lows of being intercepted in the endzone, Howell had an eventful day – but walked with a way a win and proved he’s capable of playing in the NFL.
COMMANDERS DOMINATE TRENCHES
The Cowboys entered Sunday ranked No. 21 league-wide in run defense, and the Commanders made it an emphasis to attack that weakness, even without their top two running backs in Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson.
The result was a stout 41 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown, with Jaret Patterson leading the way in his first offensive action this season, collecting 78 yards on 17 carries. Howell wasn’t far behind, taking five carries for 35 yards and a score while contributing on both designed and off-script plays. Jonathan Williams added 32 yards on 14 carries, all creating a strong ground game that aided Howell in his debut.
Apart from the final score, Dallas was also blown out in rushing yards, as it mustered 64 yards on 27 carries, an average of 2.4 yards per carry. Star running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for just 29 yards on 15 carries, illustrating the total control of Washington’s front seven.
DAK’S DISTRESS: WASHINGTON DEFENSE CONTROLS AERIAL ATTACK
In addition to the strong run defense, the Commanders were stingy against the pass, holding Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to just 14 completions on 37 attempts for a miniscule 128 yards, adding in one touchdown and an interception.
Following Howell’s endzone interception, Dallas had some momentum, still trailing only 7-0 … and Prescott escaped unscathed after a near-interception to Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller. But the same couldn’t be said for the next play, as he threw a pick-six to Fuller – and Washington never looked back after taking a two-possession lead.
With pressure at his feet for much of the night and most passing windows being highly contested, Prescott flat-out looked uncomfortable … and the stat line reflects exactly that. But credit belongs to the Commanders defense, which never let its foot off the gas and sent a clear statement for 60 minutes.
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