In a pointed departure from Decembers past, the Dallas Cowboys dominated the Washington Redskins tonight, cementing a playoff berth and setting up a decisive NFC East showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles in Arlington next week with a 17-0 victory in Landover, Maryland.
With the New York Giants being thoroughly chased from the last game in Giants Stadium, the Cowboys came out of the gate strong. The tone would be set with Terence Newman's interception of Jason Campbell on the Redskins' first drive.
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From there, Tony Romo needed seven plays to traverse the 36 yards to pay-dirt, hitting Roy Williams in the back of the end-zone to take an early seven-point lead. Romo continued his impressive December on Sunday, going 25 for 38 for 286 yards and a touchdown. Romo also threw an interception, though it came on a drawn-out tip.
Dallas won the ground battle decidedly, posting 108 rushing yards to Washington's 43. Marion Barber led the way with 63 yards and a second quarter touchdown, which extended the lead to 14.
This lead would stand for quite some time, as the Washington offense struggled under constant pressure from the Dallas pass rush. The Redskins posted only 218 yards of total offense. They were 4-14 on third downs and 0-1 on 4th downs.
Perhaps more telling was the time of possession battle, which was won by Dallas by more than ten minutes.
Kicker Shaun Suisham, who was signed earlier this week by Dallas after being cut by Washington in November, was booed roundly by the Redskins faithful throughout the night. Regardless, he was a perfect 2 of 2 on extra points, and 1 of 1 on field goals. His 23-yard attempt extended the lead to 17 midway through the fourth quarter.
Washington had no answer for the Dallas defense, watching the clock run out to the tune of deafening boos from the home crowd. One fan mockingly held a sign reading "Let's go Caps," an allusion to the city's NHL franchise, the Washington Capitals.
The defense was led by Jay Ratliff, who sacked his buddy from his college days at Auburn, Campbell, twice. Igor Olshansky and Anthony Spencer shared a sack, and the unit tallied two forced fumbles and an interception on the evening.
With Philadelphia defeating Denver on a late field goal, next week's match-up with the Eagles will decide the winner of the NFC East.
The win sends Dallas to 10-5 on the season, guaranteed a playoff berth.