Cowboys defeat Redskins: Five Initial Post-Game Thoughts

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is pressured by Washington Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith (94) during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is pressured by Washington Redskins outside linebacker Preston Smith (94) during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Following the Dallas Cowboys victory over the Washington Redskins, we give five post-game thoughts and reactions following the Cowboys first win of 2016.

On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins on the road, 27-23. Directly following the matchup, here are five initial thoughts and reactions following the Cowboys’ victory.

#1. Dak Prescott‘s Poise

A lot has been made of the poise of rookie quarterback Dak Prescott. And nothing better demonstrated that poise than Prescott’s play in the pocket in Sunday’s victory over the Redskins. The 23-year’s movement in the pocket was stellar. His feel in the pocket was steady. He never looked rushed or shaken.

Prescott often tried to throw the ball away instead of taking sacks. Finally, and most impressively, the rookie refused to turn the ball over. Dak will simply not cost the Cowboys a win due to poor play on his part. Cowboys fans, take a breath. Prescott is the real deal.

#2. Ezekiel Elliott‘s fumbles

After a 51-yard, 20 carry debut against the New York Giants in Week One, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott had a much better performance against the Redskins on Sunday. Racking up 83 yards on 21 carries, Zeke scored for a second week in a row. Unfortunately his two fumbles on the day got him bench late in the game.

At Ohio State, Elliott was one of the best in securing the football among his 2016 NFL Draft class peers. Chalk it up to the Peanut Punch being perfected by Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and/or nerves, but the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft simply can not put the ball on the ground twice in a game.

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#3. Justin Durant‘s play

The Dallas Cowboys linebacker corps needed a shot in the arm. And on Sunday, they got it from linebacker Justin Durant. The play of the 30-year old veteran in the fourth quarter sealed the victory for the Cowboys.

Most noticeably, Durant had a pass deflection on fourth down that allowed Dallas’ offense to drain the Redskins of all of their timeouts in the last two minutes of the game. I’m not prepared to say he deserves a starting role, but the veteran certainly should get more playing time.

#4. The Year of Cole Beasley

Although it was Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant who led Dallas in receiving by recording seven catches for 102 yards, it felt as if slot receiver Cole Beasley was rookie quarterback Dak Prescott’s go-to player in the first two weeks of the season. After catching eight passes for 65 yards in Week One, the “Bease” recorded five more catches for 75 yards on Sunday. And for the second week in a row, Cole was robbed of a touchdown.

Against the Giants, Beasley dropped an easy pass over the middle of the field near the end zone  that would have been a sure touchdown. On Sunday, the 27-year old ran a perfect route near the goal-line, forcing Redskins defender Bashaud Breeland to commit the pass interference penalty on the Cowboys slot receiver. Elliott would score on a one-yard run on the very next play. Beasley is quickly becoming Prescott’s security blanket. It could be a big year for the diminutive receiver in Dallas.

#5. Morris Claiborne Hope

I have to admit I was on the fence about fifth-year cornerback Morris Claiborne when the Cowboys re-signed him to a one-year, $3 million deal this offseason. Despite his improved play in OTA’s and during training camp, I refused to go all-in on Claiborne simply because of his past history.

But the former first round pick’s solid play on Sunday has me leaning in more towards Claiborne on that fence. Physically and persistent, the 26-year old corner seems to be playing more like the ballhawk out of LSU than any other time in his tenure with the Cowboys. Although Mo did have a sure interception bounce of him (on a play he got called for defensive holding), his play otherwise seemed outstanding.

Next: Cowboys defeat Redskins behind clutch defensive stops, 27-23

Likely the most consistent secondary player so far for Dallas, Claiborne is starting to live up to that potential he had coming out of college. But make no mistake about it: I’m still on the fence when it comes to Mo. Four years of disappointment can not be erased with one solid game.