The most fight the Washington Football Team displayed on Sunday in Dallas came on its own sidelines and featured two of the club’s players getting physical with each other, not the Cowboys.
Early on in the second quarter, with the hosts already well on their way to a resounding and mind-numbingly easy 56-14 victory, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen exchanged words and, eventually, a blow, too.
While Allen’s punch didn’t fully connect with Payne’s face, the whole scene was a perfect summation of the entire evening for Ron Rivera’s club: totally dysfunctional.
That dysfunction was evident almost right away.
Washington’s defense actually forced a punt on its first action of the contest — an event that would prove to be a highlight for the group. But Taylor Heinicke threw an interception on his first attempt of the proceedings, and nine snaps later, Dak Prescott found an exceptionally wide-open Ezekiel Elliott for a touchdown.
Prescott went on to connect with an equally uncovered Dalton Schultz on his next possession to go up by 14.
For the Cowboys’ ensuing score, Prescott wouldn’t even need to assemble a huddle. Instead, Demarcus Lawrence snared a Heinicke pass and lumbered 40 yards the other way for yet another end-zone trip. The rout was on — and also not even close to done.
Heinicke and the Washington offense actually put up a six-pointer of their own as they tried to provide a little resistance, but that touchdown was met by a fourth one from Dallas, then a fifth one from Dallas (which ended in the arms of a left tackle) and, amazingly, a sixth one from Dallas.
At halftime, the Cowboys were up 42-7. The 42 points meant they tallied more in one half of football than anyone else registered in two halves in Week 16.
Sure, it’s fair to mention that visiting side was without Landon Collins, William Jackson III, Cole Holcomb and Jamin Davis, so it’s not like Prescott, Elliott and the receivers were racing by a full-strength unit. That comes out to four different first-stringers who were inactive.
But you know what’s also fair to mention? The effort and execution put forth by the other healthy starters and their accompanying backups will be remembered as one of the most embarrassing outings in the organization’s history.
If a Burgundy and Gold fan somehow sat through the whole beatdown, that person either fell asleep or needs to see a psychologist.
By the way, let’s not allow the offense to sneak away without a heaping helping of criticism. After authoring his worst performance with the franchise the last time he saw Dallas, Heinicke was even more helpless this time around. His crew's search for momentum was as fruitless as a meat lovers pizza.
Even the special teams were overmatched, as a third-quarter Tress Way punt was blocked and resulted in the seventh touchdown of the game for those in the starred helmets. No one on Rivera's squad was spared at AT&T Stadium.
Just for the sake of accuracy, the Cowboys' eight and final trip past the goal line came courtesy of a Cooper Rush-to-Malik Turner strike. Rush came on in relief of Prescott before the third quarter wrapped up and was lucky enough to pad his own stats.
With that, all Dallas touchdowns have been accounted for.
Now, as crazy as it is to say following the debacle, Washington was searching for a victory in order to stay on the periphery of the NFC playoff picture heading into this edition of the "rivalry."
Less than four hours later, Rivera, his staff and his players will be searching for something else: answers.
No, the coach's rebuild of this collective operation wasn't going to happen in one night. That said, it certainly feels like whatever progress he made since coming aboard in January 2020 was all but erased in that same, small timeframe.