Thursday night wrap-up: Cowboys prevent Eagles from clinching with 38-14 win

AP

The Eagles will have to wait at least another three days to celebrate. The Cowboys beat Washington 38-14, not only keeping their slim playoff hopes alive, but preventing Philadelphia from clinching the NFC East . . . at least temporarily.

The Eagles control their next chance to wrap up their first division title since 2013, needing a win Sunday.

The Cowboys ended a three-game losing streak and evened their record to 6-6. They need to keep winning and get help to have any chance of a wild-card berth. But three of their last four games are on the road.

“Control what you can control,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, “and get back to work next week.”

The Cowboys finally gave their fans something to cheer.

Dallas entered the game having scored 10 or fewer points in three consecutive games for the first time in team history. By scoring more than 10 against Washington, the Cowboys avoided becoming the first team since the 2003 Giants to score fewer than 10 points in four consecutive games.

If only the Cowboys could play Washington every week. . . . They beat Washington 33-19 on Oct. 29, and their 38 points Thursday were the most the Cowboys have scored since a 40-10 win over San Francisco on Oct. 22.

The Cowboys scored only 22 points combined in their previous three games.

Washington was its own worst enemy. It outgained Dallas 280 yards to 275 yards, but Washington gave up four sacks, turned it over four times and lost the special teams battle as Cowboys rookie Ryan Switzer returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown, while Washington returner Jamison Crowder lost a fumble on a punt return.

Here are five more things we learned during Thursday Night Football:

1. DeMarcus Lawrence, who is in the final year of his contract, will get paid in the offseason.

The Cowboys defensive end, who had nine sacks in his first three seasons combined, took over the NFL lead. He had two sacks of Kirk Cousins, giving him 13.5 for the season. That’s the most for a Cowboys pass-rusher since DeMarcus Ware made 19.5 in 2011.

The Cowboys took advantage of Washington’s banged up offensive line, which, as if it needed any more injuries up front, lost right tackle Morgan Moses to an ankle injury in the first half. Ty Nsekhe played left guard, right tackle and left tackle against Dallas.

Taco Charlton and Lawrence both had strip-sacks of Cousins, though Washington lost only one of Cousins’ fumbles.

2. The Cowboys likely ask Dez Bryant to take a pay cut in the offseason, as he has a $12.5 million salary and a $16.5 million salary cap number for 2018. Dallas signed the wide receiver to a five-year, $70 million deal, with $45 million guaranteed, after he made the All-Pro team with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014.

In the three seasons since, Bryant has 139 catches for 1,836 yards and 16 touchdowns.

On Thursday, though, he looked more like the player Cowboys fans know and love. He caught five passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. His 13-yard catch over cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who was flagged for interference on the play, was Bryant’s first touchdown since Week 6 against the 49ers, ending a five-game scoring drought.

It also gave Bryant the record for the most touchdowns in team history with 72, one more than Bob Hayes had in his Hall of Fame career.

3. Cousins didn’t have a good night, but he needs help.

The Washington quarterback had three turnovers — two interceptions and a lost fumble — and had another fumble recovered by a teammate. He finished 26 of 37 for 251 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

But Washington rushed for only 56 yards, with Samaje Perine gaining a team-leading 38 yards on 12 carries. Crowder and Josh Doctson both dropped a pass, with Crowder’s leading to an interception.

The injury-plagued offensive line got Cousins beat up, allowing four sacks and five other hits, and forcing him to run for his life. It’s a good thing Cousins has extra days for his body to recover from the beating he took.

4. The Cowboys haven’t answered their problems on offense despite what the score said. They had only 93 net passing yards, which usually results in a loss.

Dak Prescott, who didn’t miss any snaps after injuring his hand in the first half, completed 11 of 22 passes for 102 yards with two touchdowns. Switzer scored on the punt return — the Cowboys’ first since Dwayne Harris went 86 yards for a score against Washington in 2013 — and short fields led to touchdown drives of 59 and 11 yards.

Prescott remains in a sophomore slump. Although he didn’t have any turnovers against Washington, Prescott has eight turnovers, two touchdown passes and one touchdown run in the four games without Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys are 1-3 in those games. In the first eight games, Prescott was 5-3 with 16 touchdown passes and four turnovers.

5. To add insult to injury and irritation for Washington, Alfred Morris had his first 100-yard game since the regular-season finale in 2015. He played for Washington then, and ran for exactly 100 yards against the Cowboys.

Morris gained 127 yards and scored a touchdown on 27 carries Thursday. It was the first 100-yard rushing game by a Cowboys running back other than Elliott since Darren McFadden went over the century mark against the Jets on Dec. 20, 2015.

Elliott has 191 carries for 783 yards this season, an average of 4.1 yards per carry. Morris has 78 carries for 423 yards, an average of 5.4 yards per carry.

The Cowboys play two more games without Elliott, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan should make Morris a big part of the game plan.