Dallas defeated the rival Redskins, 31-28, for its third straight victory and, thus, the Cowboys have successfully turned around their season, it seems.
Here’s how the performance breaks down:
Passing game: A-plus — Not to overrate Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper too quickly, but it would be unfair to give the duo anything but the highest possible grade for this game. Prescott’s 90-yard touchdown pass to Cooper turned the momentum for good in the Dallas win. Prescott completed 22 of 31 passes for a season-high 289 yards with 2 touchdown passes and no interceptions, posting a passer rating of 121.6. Cooper finished with 8 catches for 180 yards and both TDs. But it can’t be said that Prescott had tunnel vision for Cooper as nine different Dallas players caught passes in the win.
Running game: B-plus — Ezekiel Elliott notched his third-straight game of more than 100 rushing yards. He averaged a solid 4.7 yards per carry and got loose for a 16-yard TD to cap the Cowboys’ game-opening drive. But Dallas failed to convert a fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter, knocking the running game down a letter grade. Even so, Prescott’s contributions keep it at a B-plus after his 5-yard TD run for the Cowboys’ final score.
Pass defense: B — Dallas intercepted Redskins QB Colt McCoy three times and sacked him three times, a huge factor in the Cowboys’ victory. However, McCoy threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to tight end Vernon Davis. That play was the epitome of Dallas’s struggle to defend Washington’s tight ends throughout the contest.
Run defense: B-minus — Redskins running back Adrian Peterson averaged just 2.9 yards per carry on 12 attempts, but McCoy and RB Kapri Bibbs combined for 45 yards on 8 carries. Washington had to abandon the run in the second half, which disguised the fact that the Redskins were having success on the ground. Still, Dallas took the run away well enough for more than just a passing grade.
Special teams: B — Cowboys kicker Brett Maher booted a 28-yard field goal and was perfect on four extra points. Punter Chris Jones pinned a couple of balls inside the 20. That’s a solid effort for the guys that put toe to leather. However, when Prescott and Elliott combined to earn an unsportsmanlike penalty following Prescott’s TD run, it helped Washington kick returner Trey Quinn return the ensuing kickoff to the Dallas 44. The Redskins got closer than they should have in the fourth quarter thanks to Quinn’s return. But at least Dallas recovered the Redskins onside kick with just over a minute left.