Here's five takeaways from the Washington Redskins' Week 13 game against the Dallas that took place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
1. Early offensive miscues and second half defensive struggles put the Redskins too far into a hole to climb out of against the Cowboys.
It looked like the Redskins were going to jump out to an early lead after the defense's first two appearances of the evening forced back-to-back three-and-outs.
After the offense's first drive sputtered out at the Dallas 43-yard line, Trent Williams got the ball moving on the second drive, as Washington got new life out of a roughing the passer call on the Cowboys.
The quarterback worked the unit down inside the Cowboys' 20-yard line, but a pass that would have put the Redskins just feet from the end zone bounced off the hands of Jamison Crowder and into Jeff Heath's possession.
The Redskins would once again force a three-and-out off the turnover, but Crowder fumbled his punt return. The Cowboys recovered.
While Dallas didn't score until early in the second quarter, a third turnover – a Cousins fumble as he was getting sacked on third down -- set Washington back.
In total, the Redskins turned the ball over four times on the night.
"I had one arm under it tucked and it came out," Cousins said of his fumble. "I was just trying to argue my case that maybe I was in the grass, but I was a sitting duck at that point, they obviously didn't think so."
Defensively, the Redskins' strong start with four straight three-and-outs faded as the game progressed.
In the second half, the Redskins allowed more than 170 yards and 21 fourth quarter points.
"They had a game plan. It was a good game plan. It worked out," said linebacker Zach Brown. "As a team, credit them. They beat us today. You can't really say anything about it. You just have to the drawing board and work hard at it."
2. Jamison Crowder understands he needs to be better in both the passing game and as a punt returner.
It was a difficult opening frame for Crowder, as a catch he normally makes clanked off his hands for an interception before later fumbling a punt return inside Dallas territory.
"It was tough, but I mean you've got to play," Crowder said. "Things are not always going to go the way you want to go, so you've just got to keep playing.
"I always just tell myself 'You've got to just keep playing.' Things are going to happen that are good, things are going to happen that are bad, so whatever happens, you've just got to ride away and keep going."
Crowder would eventually shake off the turnovers to catch five passes for 67 yards. His best play of the night came on a 33-yard reception on 3rd-and-6, as Cousins eluded pressure from Dallas' defense to find Crowder just short of the sticks. The Duke product, however, would turn it into Washington's longest offensive play of the game.
Three plays later, the Redskins got their first touchdown of the night.
"It was just one of those plays, off-scheduled," Crowder said. "Kirk got out of the pocket and he didn't hit me on the initial route, or he didn't hit anybody on the initial route, so I just kept working. He kept working me through it and I was just right there to make the play, and I just caught it and ran for as much as I could get."
Overall, though, Crowder was disappointed in his performance and understands that he needs to string together more consistent outings like last week's game against the New York Giants when he recorded a career-high 141 receiving yards.
"We just never really took advantage of the opportunities. A big part was my fault," Crowder said. "It was a long game. Just keep playing when good things happened and when bad things happen."
3. Despite hitting him early, the Redskins couldn't slow down former Washington star Alfred Morris.
Going into halftime, the Cowboys had just 39 rushing yards on 11 carries as the Redskins were able to contain Morris to just 29 of those yards.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' 2017 Week 13 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 30, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
But as Redskins fans had become accustomed to during his years in Washington, Morris got better as the game wore on. By the final whistle, Morris collected 127 rushing yards on 27 carries with his first touchdown on the year.
It was also his first 100-yard rushing performance since joining Dallas last offseason
"We were hitting him early in the down, but he was able to bounce off some tackles and fall forward, which piled up the yardage," said linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. "You can't have that."
After going to him early and often in the third quarter, Dallas continued the trend of giving Morris the ball in the fourth quarter. The Florida Atlantic product registered 42 rushing yards in the final frame alone.
"We missed a few tackles here and there and they were able to wear our defense down a little bit," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "They have a big offensive line, physical offensive line. Witten's a good a blocking tight end as there is in NFL history. They wore us down a little bit and Alfred ran hard."
4. Josh Doctson and Ryan Grant added to their touchdown totals with the latter easily having his best season to date.
Washington's two touchdowns on the evening were connections between Cousins with Grant and Doctson, as both found the end zone to up their season touchdown totals.
Down 17-0 in the second quarter, Cousins got Washington on the move just before halftime, capping off a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown to Grant.
The fourth-year wide receiver got behind Dallas' secondary before finding himself wide-open in front of the left pylon. He would then scamper into the end zone before Heath could get to him.
Doctson, meanwhile, added to his collection of highlight reel catches as he skied over 2016 NFL Combine star Byron Jones for a 14-yard touchdown.
On his third down throw to Doctson, Cousins utilized a seven-step drop before immediately targeting Doctson and flinging it up for grabs for the Redskins' 2016 first-round pick.
The quarterback threw a perfect ball into the corner of the end zone where the former unanimous All-American outjumped Jones for his fifth touchdown of the season.
After a slow start to his sophomore campaign, Doctson now has 354 receiving yards and a team-high in receiving touchdowns, four of which have come since the bye week.
5. With four games remaining, the Redskins still have plenty to play for.
While the road to the playoffs got increasing harder with Thursday night's loss, the Redskins must stick together over the final four games of the season.
Up first is a Los Angeles Chargers squad that is just one game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West standings
"I think at this point I think we just have to keep competing, keep playing, keep playing for one another, because when it gets to this point, where you're out and you just have to stay together, keep competing, can't give up, keep fighting," said tight end Vernon Davis. "Just continue to have that winning attitude."
Even if the Redskins are eliminated from playoff contention in the coming weeks, tackle Trent Williams said every single player on the roster must put his best foot forward before the front office determines how to build the team for next season.
"Just because you may be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs doesn't mean you can go out there and put trash on tape, because at the end of the year, we're evaluating your production," Williams said. "We don't say 'No, we'll give you a pass because we're mathematically eliminated.' They expect every time you take the field to play a certain way."
The Redskins enter the month of December with a 5-7 record. While Washington certainly wishes it was in a better situation, the aim must be a strong finish.
"Our best chance is to go 9-7 and that's what we're shooting for," said cornerback Josh Norman.