One thing the Washington Redskins almost certainly won't have to worry about this year is a must-win game in the season finale to make the playoffs.[[290815791,R]]
The Redskins pretty much took themselves out of the postseason picture before the calendar even turned to December, which happened soon after their 38-14 loss Thursday night to the Dallas Cowboys still without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott.
"Right now, it looks as if we are not going to make the playoffs," tight end Vernon Davis said. "So I think at this point, we just have to continue to keep competing, keep playing and keep playing for one another. ... You can't give up."
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Photos: Cowboys vs. Redskins on Thursday Night Football
The Redskins (5-7), who had already been eliminated from NFC East contention, dropped behind Dallas (6-6) in the division standings. The Cowboys also swept the season series, though between those two games, they were overwhelmed in three straight losses without Elliott.
Philadelphia can wrap up the division title with a win in any of its last five games. The Eagles play Sunday night at Seattle.
Alfred Morris, Elliott's replacement during the six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence, had 127 yards rushing and a clinching touchdown against his former team.
"Really has an uncanny knack of seeing the soft spot, and you saw it here tonight," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins was consistently harassed behind a patchwork offensive line that had to shuffle some more because of injuries. Cousins was 26 of 37 for 251 yards and two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Photos: Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 2017
Cousins said Washington still thinks it has something to play for.
"It's our job, it's important to us," said Cousins, who was sacked four times . "We'll be professional every day and finish the season strong, put a good taste in our mouth."
Last season, all the Redskins had to do to make the playoffs was win at home in Week 17 against a playoff-bound Giants team with nothing to play for. The game was tied before New York scored nine points in the final 2:12.
Dak Prescott was getting X-rays on his swollen right hand when rookie Ryan Switzer scored his first career touchdown on an 83-yard punt return that put the Cowboys up 17-0. The extra time with the Dallas offense on the sideline kept Prescott from missing any plays.
Prescott, hit just as he made an option pitch, threw two TD passes. The first was to tight end Jason Witten, the team's career receiving leader, and the second was a leaping 13-yard grab by Dez Bryant, whose 72nd career TD catch broke a tie with Hall of Famer Bob Hayes for the most in franchise history.
And Prescott didn't have a turnover after throwing five interceptions and losing three fumbles without a touchdown pass during the three-game losing streak. He said the X-rays were negative.
"It was tough," Prescott said. "It was great to get a win."
And keep the Cowboys' dwindling playoff hopes alive.
Even with the playoffs just about out of reach, Redskins left tackle Trent Williams isn't sure he wants to shut it down for the season after being active for the third time in six games with a knee injury that will require surgery. The five-time Pro Bowler left briefly in the third quarter but returned.
"I feel like there's some merits to sticking and trying to finish the season," Williams said. "I fought through it this long. Hopefully I can get another four games out of it."
The Redskins had to do more shuffling to their decimated front when right tackle Morgan Moses was carted off with a sprained ankle. Ty Nsekhe had moved to left guard to start the game but had to go back to tackle, where he's been a backup. Who knows what the line will look like the rest of what appears to be a lost season.
"We're not the only one dealing with it," Williams said. "We may have the most. But a lot of teams lose pivotal players during the season."
The Cowboys had fewer than 300 yards total offense for the fourth straight game, the longest such streak since the final four games of former coach Dave Campo's tenure in 2002. But it didn't matter this time because they were efficient. Prescott had two touchdowns despite throwing for just 102 yards. And Morris had his first 100-yard showing since final game with the Redskins in 2015, against the Cowboys. "I thought Dak did a really good job of making timely throws," coach Jason Garrett said.
Jamison Crowder's fumble on the punt return was his sixth fumble of the season and third lost fumble. Coach Jay Gruden has hinted several times at replacing Crowder on punt returns because of the fumbles, but the other option is Maurice Harris, who left the game to be evaluated for a concussion. "We don't have anyone else to return a punt."