Best and worst moments from the Redskins’ 38-14 loss to the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Thursday.
Worst dagger: Alfred Morris burned his former team … again. The former Redskins running back and fan favorite, who scored the go-ahead touchdown in the Cowboys’ Week 2 win at FedEx Field last season, did his signature home run swing celebration in the end zone after his one-yard touchdown run gave Dallas a 31-14 lead late in the fourth quarter on Thursday. After Washington cut the Cowboys’ lead to 10, Morris helped salt the game away with seven carries for 42 yards on a 75-yard drive that burned more than six minutes off the clock.
Best performance: Morris should get his offensive linemen more than Rice Krispie treats after Thursday’s win, or at least mix in some M&M’s. Morris rushed for 127 yards on 27 carries, marking the first time he eclipsed the century mark since he did it against the Cowboys while with Washington in 2015. He joins Duane Thomas as the only two players in NFL history with a 100-yard game for both NFC East rivals.
Worst defense: The Redskins were penalized for having 12 men on the field (but really it was 13) on the Cowboys’ game-clinching drive. A pass interference penalty on Bashaud Breeland, who failed to turn around and find the ball on a pass intended for Dez Bryant, set up Morris’s touchdown plunge.
Worst finish: If the game wasn’t already over then, it was after Kirk Cousins threw an interception on Washington’s next possession and Rod Smith scored on a one-yard touchdown run of his own to complete the scoring.
Worst shock: If you thought a first half that already featured three Redskins turnovers, an injury to Morgan Moses and Samaje Perine being evaluated for a concussion couldn’t get any worse with less than four minutes remaining until halftime, you were mistaken. Ryan Switzer covered 24 yards more than Washington’s offense had managed on five drives with an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Dallas a 17-0 lead with 3:46 to play in the second quarter.
Best signs of life: The Redskins’ offense answered before the half, cutting Dallas’s lead to 17-7 with a 75-yard drive capped by Cousins’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Grant. Cousins finished 26 of 37 for 251 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Best throw: Washington converted two crucial third downs on its first scoring drive, a six-yard scramble by Cousins and a 33-yard catch-and-run-and-non-fumble by Jamison Crowder. On the catch by Crowder, Cousins was flushed out of the pocket and unleashed a throw while backpedaling away from a Cowboys defender. It looked like another potential interception when it left his hand, but it was a thing of beauty.
Worst swelling: Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott went to the locker room for X-rays on his right hand after taking a hit in the second quarter, but didn’t miss a snap. It can’t be easy to throw a football when your hand looks like a partially deflated balloon.
Best catch: Swelling and all, Prescott completed three of four passes on an 11-play scoring the drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Bryant’s 13-yard touchdown catch over Breeland, who was called for pass interference on the play, was the 72nd of his career, breaking Bob Hayes’s franchise record. With 14:53 remaining in the game, the Cowboys led 24-7.
Best quick-strike offense: It took the Redskins nine plays and a little more than three minutes to respond, on Josh Doctson’s leaping, 14-yard touchdown grab. Cousins was 8-for-8 on the drive with completions to five different receivers.
Worst deficit: If only Jason Witten had abruptly retired to take the vacant head coaching position at Tennessee before Thursday’s game. The Cowboys tight end, who recently denied a rumor that he was interested in replacing the fired Butch Jones at his alma mater, caught a touchdown pass from Prescott to cap an 11-play drive early in the second quarter. It was Prescott’s first touchdown pass in four games and the extra point gave Dallas a 7-0 lead.
Worst sight: The Redskins got Trent Williams back after the all-pro left tackle missed last week’s game with a knee injury, but they lost Morgan Moses in the second quarter. Moses, the only member of Washington’s injury-ravaged offensive line to start every game this season, was carted off the field after his left leg was accidentally rolled up on by Dallas’s David Irving. NFL Network’s Heather Cox reported before the game that Williams, left guard Ty Nsekhe, center Tony Bergstrom, right guard Brandon Scherff and Moses represented the Redskins’ league-high 21st different offensive line combination of the season. Make it 22 … in 12 games.
Worst insult to injury: Two plays after Moses left the game, Cousins fumbled while being sacked by Demarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys recovered at the Washington 19-yard line and converted the turnover into a short field goal to take a 10-0 lead.
Best field position: The Cowboys went three-and-out on their first two possessions, the second one ending with a punt from deep in their end zone after Josh Harvey-Clemons and Preston Smith combined to sack Prescott at the Dallas 4-yard line. As a result, the Redskins’s second drive began in Cowboys territory.
Worst drop: A roughing-the-passer penalty by Maliek Collins on third-and-long prolonged the Redskins’ ensuing drive, but Washington couldn’t capitalize on the mistake. With the Redskins inside the red zone four plays later, a well-placed Cousins pass deflected off Crowder’s hands and into the arms of Cowboys safety Jeff Heath.
Worst fumble: Crowder has been one of Washington’s biggest contributors over the last four weeks, but his night would get worse before it got better. After the Cowboys went three-and-out yet again following Heath’s interception, Crowder gave the ball right back to Dallas by fumbling on the punt return. Two turnovers on two touches is an impressively awful ratio. Crowder was ruled down by contact before fumbling a subsequent kickoff return and the call stood upon replay review.
Best diagnosis: “The Redskins have a case of the dropsies tonight,” Dr. Mike Tirico declared after Cousins fumbled for a second time on a sack by Taco Charlton late in the second quarter. Fortunately for Washington, Samaje Perine pounced on the loose ball.
Best breaking out of a slump: In the first three games of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, the Cowboys were outscored 92-22 in three losses. The Cowboys entered the game with two touchdowns on their previous 34 possessions and didn’t record a first down against Washington until the final play of the first quarter. They scored 38 points and recorded 20 first downs over the final three quarters.
Worst football: And you thought the start to the Redskins-Giants game on Thanksgiving was ugly … . The Cowboys and Redskins combined for 76 yards, four first downs, six punts and two turnovers in a scoreless first quarter. “This game has a playoff-like feel to it,” NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk said on the pregame show. Give me Sunday’s 49ers-Giants game instead.
Best “Color Rush” compromise: Retinas rejoiced, as Washington didn’t debut the all-mustard “Color Rush” jerseys featured in promotional images for Thursday Night Football last September. Instead, the Redskins, who deemed their yellow “Color Rush” alternates “garish,” wore all burgundy, a look they last sported in the “Swinging Gate” game against the Giants in 2009. The Redskins are 0-4 all-time, including a 2009 loss to Dallas on Thanksgiving, in all-burgundy.
Worst streak: The visiting Redskins were 1.5-point favorites at kickoff, a rarity in this rivalry. The last time Washington was a favorite at Dallas was in 2004. The Redskins are now 3-8 straight up as a road favorite against the Cowboys since 1978 and they’ve lost six consecutive games in that role dating back to 1992.
Worst running game: Perine, who returned to the game after being evaluated for a concussion, was looking to become the first Redskins running back to rush for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games since Morris in Weeks 12-14 of the 2012 season. He finished with 38 yards on 12 carries.
Best tape job: Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger’s pregame routine has involved watching a video montage of Sean Taylor since his junior year of high school. On Thursday, Swearinger paid tribute to Taylor, who was murdered 10 years ago this past Monday, by wrapping pieces of white tape around his face mask as Taylor used to do. Ravens safety Tony Jefferson did the same thing to honor Taylor on “Monday Night Football” and intercepted his first pass of the season in a Baltimore win. Swearinger, who has three interceptions in his last three games, also paid tribute to Taylor on one of his custom cleats.
Worst homer: NFL Network analysts Rich Eisen, Steve Smith and Michael Irvin made their picks during the pregame show. While Eisen and Smith both predicted a double-digit Redskins win, Irvin, who played his entire career with the Cowboys and helped lead them to three Super Bowl wins, predicted a narrow Dallas victory.
Best bit: To no one’s surprise, Redskins radio voice Larry Michael, the newest Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, predicted Washington would win the Skintangibles battle and prevail in Big D.
Worst hope: The Redskins aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but at 5-7, 538 gives them a less than 1 percent chance to reach the postseason.