We might never see the Dez Bryant of old, but an older Dez Bryant can still play.
There has been many a good and perfectly valid reason to question if Eight-Eight still has it, and against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night he did.
When Dez gets it going, he is still great theater.
In the Cowboys’ 38-14 win against the Redskins, Dez caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. Not a career game, but a game his career badly needed.
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His 13-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was the type of play Dez has always made look so routine, and something we have not seen from him this season. Dez was covered by Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland, but Dez jumped and caught the ball over the defender anyway.
For the fifth time this season, Dez threw up the X. It was his first time since Oct. 22.
Running back Alfred Morris dominated the Redskins with more than 100 yards rushing, but it was watching Dez make a play or two that was the most welcomed sight of all.
Dez now has 72 receiving touchdowns, the most in franchise history, breaking the record previously held by Bullet Bob Hayes.
If the Cowboys have any shot at all to remain relevant until Week 17, they need to see this Dez, the Dez who looks like a threat rather than an aging decoy.
The Cowboys snapped their three-game losing streak, and won for the first time since Ezekiel Elliott began serving his six-game suspension. They scored 38 points on Thursday night after scoring 22 points in their previous three games combined.
1. The Alfred Morris Show returned. Not sure The Alfred Morris Show ever existed, but just go with it. No team looked more one dimensional, or worse, than the Cowboys without Zeke.
The running game, even without Zeke, had not been awful. What the running game had not been was dominant. Morris and his offensive line finally changed that against Washington.
Thursday night was the first time since Zeke was suspended the Cowboys looked like themselves. Morris ran 27 times for 127 yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys ran the ball 42 times.
Morris had his first 100-yard rushing game as a member of the Cowboys; the last time he ran for 100 yards was also at AT&T Stadium, when he ran for 100 yards in the regular season finale of the 2015 season against Dallas when he was a member of the Washington Redskins.
1.5 Why is Dak Prescott running the option? In the first half near the goal line, Dak ran an option-pitch play where he absorbed a big hit to the mid section.
Turns out, he suffered a bruised right hand.
He had to leave the field briefly for evaluation and an X-ray, and fortunately did not suffer a serious injury. He did not miss any time.
“They wrapped it up and I got the swelling down and it was fine,” Dak said after the game.
There is a reason NFL teams don’t want their quarterbacks running too much, especially on plays like the option where the quarterback is especially vulnerable.
Dak is big and young, but he can only take so many of those types of hits before he will be knocked out.
2. DeMarcus Lawrence will not set the NFL’s single-season sack record, but he ate up the Redskins. Tank collected two more sacks to increase his season total to 13.5. These were his first sacks since Nov. 12 at Atlanta.
Will Tank set the team record for sacks in a season? He needs to do what he did against the Redskins to do it.
The franchise single-season record for sacks is Harvey Martin, who had 23 in 1977. DeMarcus Ware collected 20 in 2008.
2.5 Again, it’s worth noting how much playing the Redskins helps, but the Cowboys’ defense deserves credit. The team forced four turnovers, and made a pair of special special-teams plays, including an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by rookie returner Ryan Switzer that gave the Cowboys a 17-0 first--half lead.
3. Ex-TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson can be a serious player for the Redskins. Since he was taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Redskins, Doctson has dealt with an injury or two. He played just two games as a rookie.
This season, when healthy, he’s proving to be a difficult cover. At times.
Much like he did in college, Doctson is an excellent high-point receiver. His quarterback has to trust his receiver to just go get it.
With 11:28 remaining in the game, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins lofted a ball into the corner of the end zone that Doctson caught at its high point over a defender for a touchdown.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof