The Washington Redskins ended their 2015 regular season with a 9-7 record after defeating the Dallas Cowboys, 34-23, Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.
When you've already clinched a playoff spot heading into the final week of the regular season, then it's nothing more than pride on the line.
Check out these top photos from the Washington Redskins' 2015 Week 17 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, at AT&T Stadium.
The Washington Redskins faced this reality on Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, as they had already clinched the NFC East title and No. 4 seed in the NFC last week with a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
So the Redskins had several goals for their season finale against the Dallas Cowboys: stay healthy, keep the momentum going, get to 9-7 and establish some new team records while they were at it.
They accomplished almost all those goals to near perfection in front of an announced crowd of
90,127, defeating the Cowboys 34-23.
The fourth quarter of Sunday's game will be remembered for three key plays: a 71-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Rashad Ross on the first play of the period; a nice interception in the other end zone on the ensuing Cowboys drive by veteran Will Blackmon; and then Blackmon striking again with a forced fumble at the goal line that gave the ball back to Washington.
For Ross, it's his first-career touchdown reception. For Blackmon, it's his second interception of the season -- setting a personal best -- and the third of his career.
More on that play to Ross: McCoy tried to do the exact same thing in the first half, but overthrew Ross. He certainly didn't do that this time around, dropping in a perfect dime to the speedster.
The Blackmon interception, meanwhile, would unfortunately be overshadowed by a safety. Alfred Morris got the handoff, but was stuffed in the end zone.
On the ensuing Cowboys possession, linebacker Preston Smith notched his eighth sack of the season. Not only does the figure lead all NFL rookies, but he has the second-most sacks in a season by a Redskins rookie since Brian Orakpo had 11 in 2009.
Then, Blackmon struck again. Darren McFadden looked to have a sure touchdown, but Blackmon smacked the ball out of his hand just short of the goal line. The ball went out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback -- Redskins' ball.
Blackmon has been such a critical pickup for the Redskins' secondary this season. He's been a stat sheet stuffer and a terrific veteran presence.
Also of note today: Morris crossed the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time since Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. Morris has had a tough year in 2015, but definitely appears to look more and more like the "old Alfred," a two-time Pro Bowler. He's being patient, hitting the right hole and making guys miss.
THIRD QUARTER: Redskins 27, Cowboys 14
We're through three here at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the Redskins maintain their lead over the Cowboys, 27-14.
It was a pretty uneventful third quarter for both teams, but the Redskins, led by Colt McCoy, were able to milk 8:21 off the clock on one drive. After 14 plays and 74 yards, they turned it into a 33-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins -- his second of the day -- to extend their lead.
Earlier in the quarter, defensive end Chris Baker notched his sixth sack of the season on a terrific hustle play. What a story Baker is: an undrafted guy out of Hampton who had to earn his spot the hard way on various practice squads before finding a home with the Redskins in 2012. He continues to improve each and every season.
Frank Kearse also earned a sack in the third quarter, helping push his story, as well. Kearse has been a "54th man" of sorts all season, as he's commonly been the player cut and then re-signed on several occasions throughout the year. He had three sacks last season, so he obviously has the talent, but he's certainly still learning behind an experienced defensive front.
HALFTIME: Redskins 24, Cowboys 14
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he'd need to see how today's game was flowing before determining when to pull his starters.
Most might agree Gruden decided by halfway through the second quarter that things were flowing pretty well for Washington.
The Redskins pulled starting quarterback Kirk Cousins at that point after he torched the Cowboys' defense, completing 12-of-15 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns. At halftime, Washington leads Dallas, 24-14.
Before he was pulled, Cousins broke one more key Redskins' record: most passing yards in a single season. His 28-yard completion to Jamison Crowder meant he passed Jay Schroeder's record of 4,109 yards set in 1986.
It's tough to say whether Cousins has put together the best passing performance in Redskins history, as Sonny Jurgensen's high-powered attack in 1967 was pretty darn good, too. But it's certainly a fun conversation to have.
The Redskins used that throw to get into field goal range, and kicker Dustin Hopkins nailed a 27-yarder with 8:20 left in the second quarter to put them up 24-0.
The Cowboys showed some life, finally, on their ensuing drive, however. Kellen Moore found veteran tight end Jason Witten for a three-touchdown with 3:39 left. After the extra point, Dallas had cut the lead to 24-7.
It was a nine-play, 80-yard drive took 4:41 off the clock for Dallas. One scary moment for the Redskins: cornerback Dashaun Phillips was carted off the field during the drive after a helmet-to-helmet hit. He was transported to a local hospital with a neck injury, but does have movement in all extremities, which is good news. We'll keep you updated on Phillips' condition as soon as we know more.
Colt McCoy took over at quarterback for the Redskins on their ensuing drive, completing his first pass, an 11-yard completion to Ryan Grant. He'd miss over the top to Rashad Ross on what would've been a sure long touchdown, however, and the series ended with a McCoy fumble (which was recovered by Josh LeRibeus) as he was flushed out of the pocket on third down.
After a booming 56-yard punt by Tress Way, the Cowboys took over at their own 14-yard line, and got to the Washington 46 on a 22-yard completion from Moore to Witten. They got to the 22 after a 24-yard pass to Brice Butler, and, two plays later, Moore found Cole Beasley for a five-yard touchdown pass. The extra point cut the lead to 10, 24-14.
Too easy for the Cowboys, who have an excellent offensive line and aren't allowing any sort of pressure up front.
FIRST QUARTER: Redskins 21, Cowboys 0
The 2015 regular season finale is upon us here at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
If you're among those who think Week 1's season opener against the Miami Dolphins feels like a couple seasons ago, you're not alone. Lots has changed for this Washington Redskins team since then, the most notable achievement being, of course, its NFC East title.
The Dallas Cowboys, meanwhile, are on the opposite end of the spectrum, only winning four games all year in a season in which starting quarterback Tony Romo would miss huge chunks on two different occasions with a clavicle injury.
Even though Washington still has the No. 4 seed locked up, the team has lots on the line today when it comes to pride, as well as a couple individual team records that could be broken.
And, after the first quarter of action, the Redskins lead the Cowboys, 21-0.
The Redskins won the opening coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. The opening kickoff went to the Cowboys, and they promptly were forced into a three and out.
Washington didn't have too much more success on its opening drive, though Kirk Cousins' opening pass was good for a first down to tight end Jordan Reed. The play resulted in Reed breaking the team's single-season record for receptions by a tight end, topping Chris Cooley's 83-catch 2008 season.
Cousins also topped the 4,000-yard passing plateau on the pass. He needs 120 total yards on the day to surpass Jay Schroeder's single-season record for passing yards, by the way.
After forcing another Cowboys punt, the Redskins got were able to get something going on the ensuing drive, set up by a 44-yard screen play from Cousins to Jamison Crowder to the Dallas 5. Great execution by the Redskins, and great patience by Cousins and Crowder to let the play develop.
One play later, Cousins found second-year Ryan Grant for the five-yard touchdown on a little misdirection play – Grant's second score of the year.
Two plays, 49 yards, 44 seconds. Pretty good efficiency right there.
The next Cowboys drive saw them make a 19-yard connection from Kellen Moore to Terrance Williams, but a eight-yard loss on a sack by Ryan Kerrigan -- a team-best No. 9.5 on the year for him -- set up an interception two plays later by Will Compton, the first of his career.
Cousins & Co. made them pay, highlighted by a 39-yard touchdown over the top to Pierre Garçon -- his third straight game with a touchdown reception -- that put Washington up 14-0 with 4:28 left in the first quarter.
The Dallas miscues continued on their ensuing possession. Moore would fumble, and Chris Baker would pick it up, continuing the career year for the Hampton product. The Redskins took over at the Dallas 30.
And Cousins did it again, this time on a three-yard touchdown pass to rookie Jamison Crowder.
With 14 seconds left, the Redskins led 21-0.