The Dallas Cowboys stayed alive in the N.F.C. East race for at least a few more days as their long-slumbering offense came to life in a 38-14 victory over the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.
A loss or a tie against the Redskins (5-7) would have handed the division crown to Philadelphia (10-1), but, powered by Dak Prescott, Alfred Morris and the team’s defense, Dallas (6-6) got their first win without Ezekiel Elliott since Dec. 7, 2015. The victory delayed the Eagles’ title celebration until at least Sunday, when a Philadelphia win or tie against Seattle would finish the job.
The Cowboys entered Thursday’s game on a three-game losing streak during which they had looked lost without Elliott, who still has two games remaining of his six-game suspension. Prescott had been a big part of the problem, throwing for a total of 500 yards and five interceptions during the streak, and what had been a promising season was quickly falling away from Dallas.
Prescott’s performance on Thursday was not one of his more impressive games statistically, as he completed 11 of 22 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns, but he made the throws he needed to and kept the offense moving. He was not undeterred by a hard hit to his throwing hand in the first half, needing just a few minutes to undergo X-rays before returning without having missed an offensive snap.
In a testament to how well things went for Dallas against their longtime division rival, the Cowboys got an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ryan Switzer while Prescott’s hand was being examined.