The Dallas Cowboys put a stop to their three-game skid with a convincing victory over the Washington Redskins last Thursday night. It was a good performance across the board with the offense getting into the end zone four times and the defense taking the ball away four times. Even special teams came up with a few big plays.
Here are the winners and losers from the Week 13 win:
It wasn’t sexy, but Alfred Morris got the job done. In his best performance donning a Cowboys uniform, Morris would rush the ball 27 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. Things were rough in the first half as the Redskins kept getting penetration up the middle.
But after a slow start, he would get going, rushing for almost six yards a carry in the second half. The offensive line would open up some lanes, and Morris would find them as his productive runs helped keep the offense in manageable third downs.
A lot has been made about the lack of contribution from the Cowboys 2017 draft class as there hasn’t been much to be excited about up to this point. Third-round pick, Jourdan Lewis has played well this season, but after that – nobody else has made much of an impact.
Well, that is no more as the rookies made some great plays on Thursday night. Ryan Switzer, who was drafted to help the team’s kick return game, got his first career touchdown with an 83-yard punt return.
Even more impressive than that was the consistent play of second-round pick, Chidobe Awuzie who was constantly knocking down passes. Awuzie has been limited this season with a hamstring injury, but he looked outstanding in his first start at cornerback, replacing Anthony Brown. Even Taco Charlton got in on the action as he recorded his second sack of the season. It was a great showing by the Cowboys young guns.
The Cowboys defense came to play. Anthony Hitchens had 15 tackles and completely shut down any chance for the Redskins running game to get going. DeMarcus Lawrence had two sacks to regain his status as the NFL’s sack leader (13.5 on the season). But it was the four takeaways that really helped this team emerge victorious.
The Redskins offense did them no favors when Jamison Crowder couldn’t hang on to a pass that deflected into the arms of Jeff Heath. The Cowboys got lucky, but they created a lot of their own luck thanks to active hands. Lawrence would get a strip sack, Kyle Wilber would strip Crowder on a punt return. And for the second straight game against the Redskins, David Irving would deflect a pass that would go right into the hands of a Cowboys defender for an interception.
They even had a chance for another turnover, when Hitchens made an incredible strip while completely upside-down. That’s amazing.
How did he rip this ball out while upside down? pic.twitter.com/e2KCz53zUF— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) December 1, 2017
The Cowboys quarterback would have only 102 yards passing, which on the surface seems like a recipe for disaster when you consider they were without Ezekiel Elliott. But it wasn’t. Prescott would have his struggles early misfiring on a few throws, but he was still able to connect with Jason Witten and Dez Bryant for touchdown passes.
It was a less than stellar performance for the Cowboys second-year quarterback, but he could have been affected by a swollen hand he suffered on a hit he took during an option play. It got so bad in fact, that had Switzer not returned that punt for a touchdown, we would have seen Cooper Rush come on to the field to play quarterback.
The good news is that x-rays came back negative and now he’ll have 10 full days to rest up before their next game against the New York Giants.
The Cowboys coaching staff made a big change this week when they opted to go with Awuzie at cornerback and benching Brown. That wasn’t the only move the team made as Byron Jones would come off the field for 25% of the snaps, opening the door for second-year player, Kavon Frazier to see action. Both Awuzie and Frazier played extremely well.
When you look at some of the struggles the starters have had this season (Jones, Brown, and even Jeff Heath), combined with the emergence of some of these younger players (Awuzie, Lewis, Frazier, and Xavier Woods), don’t be surprised if we start seeing a shift in playing time.
Over the last three games, the pathetic performance of the Cowboys had some fans screaming for a change. The most popular of those changes came in the form of firing head coach, Jason Garrett. Considering he’s the reigning Coach of the Year, that seems preposterous, but losing streaks like that will make you say crazy things.
Any hopes of a possible Garrett replacement took a bad hit after he had his team playing great on Thursday. The personnel adjustments, the tenacious manner in which the played with, and the willingness to trust those around him to show up in do their job – all produced positive results. That hot seat has at least cooled down for the moment.
After such a convincing win, do you feel better about this Cowboys team? Are you still holding on to hope that they can make a push for the playoffs? Share your answer with Dan on Twitter @DannyPhantom24.