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Cowboys’ eight touchdowns against Washington tie 1980 record

By Dwain Price
NDG Sports

Dak Prescott is back! That means, so too, is the Dallas Cowboys’ powerful offense.
And that could be big problems for the rest of the NFL, especially considering how lethal the Cowboys’ defense has been in recent weeks.

Prescott threw for 321 yards and tossed four touchdown passes — in the first half Sunday — and the Cowboys won in laughter over the Washington Football Team, 56-14, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. In winning the NFC East for the first time in three years, the Cowboys improved to 11-4 and remain one game behind the Green Bay Packers (12-3) for the top seed in the NFC and the all-important bye in the first round of the playoffs.

To prove just how much Sunday’s game resonated with the Cowboys, they scored just eight touchdowns in their previous five games heading into the contest against Washington. However, they exploded in a very big way on Sunday as they scored eight touchdowns, which ties a franchise record set in 1980 against the San Francisco 49ers.
And whatever “slump” the Monday morning quarterbacks kept insisting Prescott was in, well that type of talk is no longer a topic of conversation.


Dak Prescott has once again led the Dallas Cowboys into a secured playoffs spot. (Image via Dallas Cowboys Twitter)

“I never said we were in a slump,” said Prescott, who tossed just three total TD passes in the previous three games. “Those were your words. So, I think it’ll be hard for you to say that now.

“But (Sunday) was great. Great performance by the offense, great performance by the team scoring on all three phases, scoring by all the different ways that we did on offense.”
The 321 passing yards by Prescott were the most in the first half in NFL history. And one more thing for the history aficionados.

Prescott threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to running back Ezekiel Elliott, a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dalton Schultz, a 1-yard touchdown pass to offensive lineman Terence Steele, and a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Amari Cooper. That’s the first time in an NFL regular season game that anyone has thrown a touchdown pass to a running back, tight end, offensive lineman and wide receiver in the same game.

And Prescott accomplished this amazing feat – in the first half.

“Dak was right on point,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I thought he was in total control. His numbers in the first half reflected that.

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“He had some (down field passing) opportunities, he was patient with the check-downs. I thought the intermediate throws, he was on point there. I really like the way he played (Sunday).”

Overall, Prescott completed 28 passes in 39 attempts for 330 yards and four touchdowns in less than three quarters of work. And five different Cowboys caught passes for over 50 total yards, including Amari Cooper, who complained last week about not being targeted enough.

Cooper had four receptions in the first quarter and finished with seven overall for 85 yards.
“I think Amari’s comment were more about wanting to do more, ”McCarthy said. “We didn’t change anything.”

The Cowboys sure did change some things as the 56 points tied for the third most in franchise history and are topped only by the 59 points they scored against Detroit in 1968 and against the 49ers in 1980. Some of Sunday’s damage was due to the Cowboys’ aggressive no-huddle offensive attack.

“We were running our fastball (offense), and they were really tired,” said Copper, whose TD put Dallas up 42-7 at halftime. “Just two weeks ago when we played them one of the d-linemen on their team, he was just like, ‘Y’allslow this thing down.’ That’s what he told me.

“I noticed when we got into our fastball (offense) we were moving the ball much more effectively. I think that contributed to all of us being over 50 yards (in reception yardage).”
Indeed, that fastball strategy worked to near-perfection as the Cowboys racked up 24 first downs and 388 yards, and were 7-on-9 on third down conversions – in the first half. Plus, after going just 1-of-6 in the red zone last week against the New York Giants, the Cowboys were a perfect 6-of-6 in the red zone, including 5-of-5 in the opening half.

“I think the thing that really helped us was we got on the ball and we were playing with tempo,” said Elliott, who had a rushing and a receiving touchdown. “When we do that, it tires those guys down so much, and it takes a lot of the thinking out of the game for us.
“We know that we’ve got a lot of weapons on this offense and we’re going to take what they give us. If the pass is hot, we’re going to air it out. I think everyone on this team is unselfish, and we all know that with team success, we’re going to have our own successes.”

For the Cowboys, Sunday’s success on offense wasn’t just reserved for their quarterback, wide receivers, running backs and right ends. Steele’s touchdown was the first for a Cowboys offensive lineman since Rayfield Wright snagged a TD reception from Don Meredith in 1968.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ defense also got in on the fun.

Cornerback Trevon Diggs intercepted his 11th pass of the season on Washington’s first play from scrimmage. That ties him with Everson Walls (1981) for the Cowboys’ single-season interception record.

Diggs said he was surprised Washington went right at him so quickly considering his impressive resume for picking off passes.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m still ready at the end of the day,” he said. “They wanted to try me on the first play, so I knew it was going to be that type of game, though. They put their best guy on me, so we’ll see what happens.

“They wanted to spice it up at the beginning, for sure. I felt like, ‘Wow, they really just did that?’ It gave me a little bit more to go out there and put on my best.”

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence also put on his best as he displayed his athleticism by first batting a pass from Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke in the air, then intercepting it and zig-zagging his way 40 yards past a bevy of defenders for a touchdown and a 21-0 Dallas lead with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter.

The touchdowns by Lawrence and Steele marked the first time in team history that a Cowboys’ defensive lineman and offensive lineman scored a touchdown in the same game.
“In all honesty the quarterback just threw the ball right in my direction, and I was lucky enough to get my hands on the ball and make it to the end zone,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know how I made it to the end zone. I just made it.

“Just being the oldest guy on the defense, it’s a lot of talent to keep up with. I got to show the young boys that I still got it.”

Not to be out-done by the offense and defense, the Cowboys’ special team’s unit also showed they still have it, too. That came by way of a blocked punt by Corey Clement, which Chauncey Golston recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and a 49-7 lead with 6:06 left in the third quarter.

“I think we’re seeing a team that’s more balanced, it’s more complimentary,” McCarthy said. “We have the ability to win games in all three phases, and that’s what we want to be.
“It’s nice to see when you have a good week of preparation and you go out and have a nice performance. I just think we’re in-tuned with the momentum that you need to build and the confidence you need to build in December. That was what this opportunity (Sunday) was about, and I thought our guys hit the nail right on the head.”

This opportunity by the Cowboys frustrated the visitors so much that Washington defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne had to be separated when Allen punched Payne after Payne put his finger in Allen’s face while the two were sitting on the team’s bench.

The theatrics by Washington served as a backdrop to the most dominating performance of the season by the Cowboys, who are now legitimate Super Bowl threats and will host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at 3:25 p.m.

“Everyone is always talking about the Super Bowl,” said linebacker Micah Parsons, who had a sack Sunday and now has 13 for the season. “But there’s always factors and steps you go through.

“Winning the division was part of it and getting to the playoffs was the second part. We’ve got to keep winning and we’ve got to finish that last piece.”

If Prescott continued to play like he did Sunday, the chances are great that the Cowboys will indeed finish that last piece.

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