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Home » Cowboys Fall Short in 26-6 Defeat

Cowboys Fall Short in 26-6 Defeat

09 January 2023, Monday
In a disappointing 26-6 loss to the Washington Commanders, the Dallas Cowboys concluded their regular season with a 12-5 record, despite missing out on the opportunity to gain momentum heading into the playoffs. Although the Cowboys ended the campaign with a strong record, their fifth seed position was secured regardless, as the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New York Giants to take the NFC East crown.

Behind an overhauled offensive line, the Cowboys were unable to establish much manufacturing in terms of offense against Washington's impenetrable front. As a result, the team was outclasses 309 yards to 182, successfully converting only 22 percent of its third-down plays - 10 of which ended in three-and-outs - and was outdone in time of possession, 36:12 to 23:48.

Dallas' running game was abysmal on first downs, with an average of only 2.4 yards per rush. This left it to Dak Prescott to create something through the air; unfortunately he had one of the most disappointing games of his career. The quarterback completed only 37.8 percent of his passes, the lowest mark of his career, amassing 128 yards and a 45.8 quarterback rating, both of which were his third-lowest totals ever.

Despite a rookie quarterback making his first career start and the absence of their leading rusher, the Commanders offense managed to move the ball against the Dallas defense when necessary. Sam Howell completed 19 passes for 169 yards and a passer rating of 83.0, while also running for 35 yards and both passing and rushing touchdowns. He led the team in rushing, as the Commanders amassed 151 yards on the ground on 41 attempts.

The Cowboys' game did not start well at all, and unfortunately for them, their special teams were the ones to blame. On their first possession, Bryan Anger, the punter, dropped the snap and was tackled as he picked up the ball, leaving the Commanders set up at the Dallas 20-yard line. All it took for them was a two-play drive, ending with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Joe Howell to Terry McLaurin, giving them an early 7-0 lead.

The Dallas Cowboys special teams unit had a night to forget when KaVontae Turpin muffed his second punt of the season. Thankfully, the Cowboys' defense held strong and Washington's Joey Slye pulled his 31-yard field goal attempt wide left.

The Commanders were continuing their drive late in the first frame, buoyed by a 25-yard pass interference call on an underthrown ball on third-and-11. Washington advanced their way to the Dallas 2-yard line, but on second-and-goal, quarterback Howell threw into a number of Cowboys defenders, with safety Malik Hooker making the interception in the end zone to keep the score still. The interception was Hooker's third of the season, equaling his career high.

Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller intercepted a pass from Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott on third down for a touchdown, giving the Commanders a 13-0 lead. Fuller stepped in front of the nearly identical throw intended for Noah Brown and returned the interception for 29 yards untouched for the score. The extra point was missed, but the Commanders were now ahead.

The Dallas Cowboys were struggling to gain the advantage against the Washington Commanders in the first half, but they were finally able to get a boost after Slye's field goal attempt went wide. After taking possession of the ball from their own 23-yard line, Prescott led the Cowboys on a drive into Washington territory and converted a fourth-and-1 at the Commanders' 17-yard line with 32 seconds left. This gave the Cowboys new life as they headed into halftime and allowed them to add to their lead before the break.

Two plays later, the Cowboys hit paydirt as quarterback Dak Prescott launched a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Unfortunately, kicker Brett Maher couldn't convert the extra point, leaving the Cowboys trailing 13-6 at halftime after a difficult first half.

The battle between the two defenses appeared to be slanted in the favor of both teams throughout the third. However, the Washington Commanders changed that when they took possession from their own 41-yard line with 5:34 remaining in the quarter. In a six-play, 59-yard drive, starting quarterback Phillip Howell completed passes of 22 and 20 yards to Jahan Dotson before rushing for the final 9 yards to cross the goal line and bring their lead to 20-6.

On the final play of the third quarter, Jason Howell fired a 52-yard pass down the right sideline to Terry McLaurin, giving the Washington Football Team a first down at the Dallas Cowboys' 15-yard line. Despite the Cowboys' defense standing firm, Joey Slye was successful with a 29-yard field goal, pushing the Washington lead to 17 points. Slye then added another 22-yarder, bringing their advantage to 20. With this result, the Cowboys stars, including Dak Prescott, were replaced by Cooper Rush for the remainder of the game. Consequently, the day ended for Dallas with a 20-point defeat. As such, the Cowboys will now face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady in the opening round of the playoffs next week. The Buccaneers finished the season 8-9 and hold the fourth seed in the NFC.
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