The Rams had more to gain Sunday than the Cowboys, which means they also had more to lose.
And lost they did.
The Cowboys gave the Rams a whipping, winning 44-21.
The beat down was so thorough and so convincing that the only question afterward was: Where has this Cowboys team been all season?
The Cowboys, who could have lost Sunday and still controlled their postseason destiny, will win the NFC East with a victory over the Eagles next week. The teams are tied atop the division at 7-7 with the Cowboys having beaten Philadelphia in Arlington earlier this season.
The victory over the Rams was the Cowboys’ first over a team with a winning record and severely damaged the defending NFC champions’ playoff hopes as the Rams fell to 8-6.
The Rams beat the Cowboys 30-22 in the divisional round of the postseason in January, rushing for 273 yards and gaining 459 total yards. The Cowboys turned the tables Sunday, rushing for 263 yards and gaining 475 total yards, while holding the Rams to 22 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Todd Gurley had 11 carries for 20 yards and a touchdown.
The teams were tied 7-7 before the Cowboys broke it open with 30 unanswered points. The Rams added a touchdown with 3:17 left before Cowboys running back Tony Pollard answered in mop-up duty with a 44-yard run with 3:00 left.
The Rams closed out the scoring with 40 seconds left on a 7-yard touchdown reception by Cooper Kupp.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and caught three passes for 43 yards, while Pollard finished with 131 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. It marks the second time this season both backs have topped 100 yards rushing.
The Cowboys got a vintage performance from Sean Lee, who was questionable entering the game. He had four tackles, a 25-yard interception return and a sack.
The Cowboys’ new kicker, Kai Forbath, made field goals of 50, 42 and 42 yards, although he did kick two kickoffs out of bounds.