Prescott’s capped a gutsy 12-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to pull the Cowboys to within a field goal with 1:37 left. Brett Maher had an opportunity to send the game into overtime with said FG, but his 52-yard attempt bounced off the left upright.
Final: Washington 20, Dallas 17.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 3-4 on the season with all four losses on the road as they blew an opportunity to seize control of the NFC East.
The Redskins now have sole possession of first place in the division with a 4-2 mark.
Prescott was checked for a concussion in the first half and lost a fumble that Redskins like Preston Smith picked up for a 1-yard touchdown with 4:55 left. But he bounced back to pass for a season-high 273 yards and nearly put himself in all-time lore of the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry.
“Yeah, just thought he battled throughout, made some plays with his feet, just made some big throws as the game went on,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Certainly, it wasn’t as clean as we wanted it to be, but I thought he hung in there and made some plays. He moved and then certainly the last couple of drives he got us down there to score that touchdown and then gave us an opportunity to kick the game-tying field goal.”
Making it even more frustrating is that veteran deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur was flagged for a snap infraction on the final attempt, turning what would have been a 47-yarder into a 52-yarder. Maher made 16 straight field goals before hitting the left upright on this one.
“Obviously, you want to win this ball game and do everything you can to find a way to come out on top,” Garrett said. “That didn’t happen. we battled. This is a young team who is doing everything we can to play the right way. We’ll learn from this experience.”
None of it matters, though, as the frustrated Cowboys head into the bye still looking for their first road win.
“We’re very frustrated,” said running back Ezekiel Elliott, who only had 15 carries for 34 yards. “This is not the start we wanted. This is not the start we expected. We have to figure this out so we can finish the season right.”
Are you better than 3-4?
“100 percent,” Elliott said.
Here are five thoughts from the game:
1. There should never be any question about Prescott’s toughness, leadership and competitiveness. He suffered a head injury while trying to dive for a first down in the first quarter, though, he was taken the concussion tent and cleared.
“I’ve been hit many times and it was a good solid hit but I was fine,” Prescott said. “Obviously, I was checked for all of that. We have the best doctors. They called me to get checked again. I was fine.”
Prescott appeared game enough after the injury. He tossed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup in the second quarter, and directed the touchdown drive to get them within three in the fourth before leading the offense into position for a game-tying field goal in the final seconds. He completed 22 of 35 passes for 273 yards and ran six times for 33 yards.
“Without Dak wouldn’t have had a chance in this game,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “I don’t want to hear the mess about Dak is not good enough, all that stuff, blah, blah, blah. Without that guy, we have no chance. He makes plays all game with his feet and extended plays to give us an opportunity to win the game. If we didn’t have him we would have been in trouble.”
2. The Cowboys offensive line had a rough day opening holes in the run game against the Redskins top-ranked run defense. Ezekiel Elliott had 10 carries for 13 yards in the first half and 12 carries for 19 yards after three quarters. He finished with 15 carries for 34 yards. Everything the Cowboys do on offense is based on a strong offensive line and a dominant run game. It was all nonexistent against the Redskins, and to make matters worse, tackle Tyron Smith and La’el Collins struggled in pass protection. Smith was routinely beat around the edge by Smith, who knocked down two passes, had a sack and returned that fumble for a touchdown. Smith had a holding penalty that wiped out a first down in the first quarter. Guard Connor Williams had a holding penalty that wiped out a first down in the fourth drive and proceeded to give up a sack, forced fumble and return for a touchdown that clinched the win. Collins also had a key holding penalty to set the offense back.
“It’s a good defensive front,” Garrett said. “We weren’t able to run the ball like we wanted to. And then you get into some unfavorable situations pass protecting. Obviously, penalties were a huge part of this game. We were behind the chains a lot because of the penalties.”
3. The run defense struggled with 33-year old running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed 24 times for 99 yards. And there is no excuse for the 23-yard touchdown pass to Kapri Bibbs on the opening drive. But the defense settled down and kept the Cowboys in the game, overcoming a fumble by Prescott in the first quarter. The Cowboys defense registered just one sack. But again they were game late and got the ball back to the offense at the end for the final field goal attempt. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence led the team with seven tackles. Lee had six and Smith had six.
Sean Lee said he felt good getting back on the field after missing the past three games but lamented the defense not being able to impact the game by forcing a turnover.
“It’s a tough loss against a division opponent,” Lee said. “We have to find a way to rally. We have a bye week. Defensively, we had chance to take the ball away and do some more. We have to figure a way to do that, we have to cause turnovers. Any time you play a tough opponent on the road we have to find a way to get the ball. Hopefully, we can figure that out after the bye.”
4. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones acknowledges the team is doing its homework on Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper in advance of the upcoming trade deadline. The Raiders have made no secret of their intentions to trade Cooper, 24, a former No. 1 pick from Alabama who has two 1,000-yard seasons on his resume.
“I think you look at the areas of really alleged need that every club has around the league, then you would try to match that with a potential or prospective trade situation,” Jones said on his radio show before the game. “That’s what you have happening there.”
The Cowboys lack a No. 1 receiver and the revamped group following the departure of Dez Bryant has struggled for much of the season.
Allen Hurns had a season-high 5 catches for 74 yards but had a key drop on third down that help keep the Cowboys backed up.
Deonte Thompson continues to fail to make contested catches. Rookie Michael Gallup was the bright spot early with three catches for 81 but he had little impact in the second half. Cole Beasley was the go-to guy down the stretch and finished seven catches for 56 yards.
5. The dejected Cowboys will start their bye week with a loss and now a group field trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Lincoln Memorial. The team will spend the night after the Redskins game and do a group tour. Jason Garrett looks at these things as educational trips, similar to what he has done in the past when the Cowboys visited the Navy Seals, the Tower of London, Ground Zero and NASA.
Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford the loss will not take away from the from group trip on Monday. But he planned to have the captains talk to the team a post-game dinner on Sunday night to get some things ironed out following the loss and their minds headed in the right direction going into the bye.