Alfred Morris went into the stadium he called home for his first four NFL seasons, and scored the game-winning touchdown for his new team, as the Dallas Cowboys beat Washington, 27-23 on Sunday.
Morris’ 4-yard touchdown run capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive, to give the Cowboys a 27-23 lead, and the defense made two stops of potential Washington drives, as the Cowboys moved to 1-1 on the year.
"Last week we came up short, this week we were able to get the win, so that's always good," Morris said of getting the victory. "Defense stepped up big time, late, and helped us get the ball back a lot, so it was a good showing."
In the fourth quarter, Washington threatened to extend the lead to two possessions with less than 11 minutes to play. But after moving the ball down to the six yard line, Kirk Cousins threw three passes. Two fell incomplete in the right corner of the endzone. The third, over the middle, was intercepted by Barry Church. The Cowboys defense came through with the big play they needed to make, to keep the game within reach.
Dallas then answered with their 80-yard drive ending with Morris’ touchdown run.
"I thought we did what we needed to do to win the game, in all three areas, and I thought we fought our asses off, and really played the right way, and played as a team," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "Really proud of the guys."
Dak Prescott scored his first NFL touchdown in the third quarter, capping a 10-play, 75-yard drive with a six yard scramble up the middle for a rushing touchdown. The Cowboys led the game 20-17, with 5:47 to play in the third. Prescott marked his first win as a pro.
"I wanted to scream, wanted to run, wanted to jump up and down, do everything," Prescott said. "Just excited to get that first win. But it was a big team win, most importantly."
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones liked what he saw from the rookie, who threw for 292 yards, on 22-30 passing.
"The poise, and taking it from practice and putting it on the field, continues to impress me about Dak Prescott," Jones said. "And boy I can't tell you, he's not missing a lick in terms of his preparation and what we're seeing. And he does better when the heat's on. So, big game for him today. Obviously a huge game for the Dallas Cowboys and his teammates."
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Dez Bryant wasn't utilized nearly enough in Week 1 -- only one catch on five targets. Sunday, the Cowboys rectified that. Bryant was targeted five times in the first half alone, and 12 times during the game. He caught seven passes for 102 yards, leading the Cowboys offense.
"I don't know if it was anything special that we did," Prescott said. "We just moved him around, I guess you could say. From the outside to inside, a couple of times. But we ran the same plays we've been running since the beginning of training camp. Nothing changed in that matter. He was just on the good end of it."
"This is an outstanding offense, with a lot of playmakers," Bryant said, "and you know, you've just got to be patient."
But the Cowboys did make sure to do some different things with Bryant, to make sure he got the football.
"We moved him around," Garrett said of Bryant. "He plays outside, he plays inside. He runs vertical routes, he runs underneath routes. He's done a variety of things for us throughout his career. That's why he's been such a productive player. And today was no different."
Washington capitalized on a pair of Cowboys miscues in the third. On the kickoff following Prescott’s touchdown, Jason Garrett called for a surprise onside kick. The decision to do so – given the Cowboys struggles defensively thus far in 2016 (and before) – wasn’t bad. It was an aggressive call that almost worked. Instead, the kick was just a bit short of the requisite 10 yards, giving the ball to Washington.
Washington followed that possession with a field goal, and then did the same after Zeke Elliott put the ball on the deck on the very next possession. Elliott had the ball stripped by Josh Norman, and Washington recovered. The ensuing field goal gave Washington a 23-20 lead.
Elliott finished the day with 83 yards on 21 carries, and a pair of fumbles (only one was lost).
Dak Prescott led three scoring drives in the first half. Only one ended in a touchdown – but that was a very impressive drive. Prescott led the offense down the field on a 9-play, 94-yard drive eating up 5:13 off the clock, and culminating with Zeke Elliott’s second touchdown of his career, from a yard out. The drive included a fourth-and-one gamble by Jason Garrett, on which a play-action fake to Elliott led to a wide open connection to Geoff Swaim for a 28-yard pickup to get the ball inside the 10.
The Cowboys settled for two field goals on their other scoring drives in the opening half. Prescott & Co. started the game with a 13-play, 76 yard drive. The Cowboys drained 5:35 off the clock on their opening possession, and took the early 3-0 lead on a 22-yard Dan Bailey field goal.
Bailey had to do heavier lifting later in the half, when a 31-yard field goal capped a 10-play, 43-yard drive.
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