Jerry Jones didn't want to stop smiling or talking Thursday night after the Cowboys first win in 25 days.[[290815791,R]]
That's because he knew the Cowboys needed a win in the worst way.
Coach Jason Garrett needed to prove he could adequately prepare his team after his team had been outscored, 92-22, in the worst three-week stretch of his seven seasons in charge of the Cowboys.
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Dak Prescott needed to prove he wasn't a product of Ezekiel Elliott's brilliance. And coordinators Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli needed to prove they could get their respective units to play at a high level.
Dallas 38, Washington 14.
Photos: Cowboys vs. Redskins on Thursday Night Football
You're lying if you saw that coming. No one did.
Not Jerry. Not Garrett. Not Prescott. There had been no tangible evidence the Cowboys could score 38 points, their second highest-point total of the season, after what we've watched the past three weeks.
"It's not hard for me to look at the way we played, the way we answered the bell, the way we played in the second half with the players we got, with Sean Lee (hamstring) coming back and the players we're getting back and not dream," Jerry said. "Any of these teams in this league can beat you, but I think we have a good chance as we look ahead."
Since the start of last season, the Cowboys have proved for the most part they can only win playing a certain way: grab an early lead, pound the running game to keep their defense off the game and rush the passer once the opponent becomes one-dimensional.
The Cowboys used that formula to perfection against Washington.
The Cowboys used An eight-yard touchdown pass from Jason Witten, a 24-yard field goal from Dan Bailey and an 83-yard punt return by Ryan Switzer to build a 17-0 lead with 3:46 left in the first half.
The lead should've been even larger.
After all, the Cowboys forced three turnovers in the first half - four in the game - but the offense struggled early. None of their first four possessions produced a first down.
Given how poorly the Cowboys played the past three games, no one would've been surprised if they had mentally caved.
Instead, they fought through the frustration.
"They handled some adversities in the game tonight, and just put it behind us and kept playing," Garrett said. "And I think that's a sign of maturity understanding that the experiences aren't always going to be good. And you learn from it and you keep moving forward. They did a good job tonight of that."
In the second half, the Cowboys gave the ball to Alfred Morris and let him punish his former team.
Morris, who had 12 carries for 38 yards in the first half, finished with 27 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. Dallas rushed for 182 yards on 42 carries and kept the ball for 32:28.
"Alfred was outstanding," Garrett said. "He's got a great feel and instinct for running the football. He makes a lot of runs that people don't really recognize how good they are - little subtle runs, 4-, 5-, 6-yard runs where he's finding the crease, finding the soft spot and moving forward."
Prescott, who played poorly in the last three games accumulating a passer rating of 57.0 with no touchdown passes and five interceptions, was hardly spectacular against Washington.
But he's also not the kind of player you judge by his stats.
He showed toughness when he returned in the second half after taking a helmet to his throwing hand running an option play in the second quarter. He had X-Rays but returned to the game.
"I don't know if I've ever broken my hand. Really I couldn't grip initially because the swelling swelled up on me so bad," Prescott said. "We wrapped it up, got the swelling down and I was fine."
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He completed 11 of 22 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
"I thought Dak Prescott was outstanding in the way he carried us through when our momentum was not there early," Jerry said. "He was getting it done. You could feel (the momentum) when it turned. Boy, does he keep a level head, and boy, is he steady. For his experience and his time in this league, I can't say enough about him.
"But don't just talk about his intangibles. He was doing some tangible things out there."
And just like that, hope exists at The Star for another week.