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Five Takeaways, Redskins Vs. Cowboys, Week 17


ARLINGTON, Tex. -- The Washington Redskins went on the road for the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys and lost, 47-16, in AT&T Stadium. Here are five takeaways from the Week 17 matchup:

1. The defense played well to start the game.

It was well-known throughout the week that the Redskins' defense, particularly the secondary, was entering the season finale banged up and depleted. They would be without safety Landon Collins, and the team had been through a multitude of cornerbacks after Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau were placed on Injured Reserve.

With that being said, the defense went into the matchup against the NFL's No.1 offense and played well in the first three drives. They held the Cowboys to just a pair of field goals -- one of which came after an interception from quarterback Case Keenum gave Dallas the ball back at the Redskins' 36-yard line.

On top of that, they held Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott to just 6 of 9 for six yards.

The Cowboys eventually found their footing, though, by putting up at least 40 points for the second time in three weeks, while Prescott threw for 303 yards and four touchdowns Still, the first quarter showed that despite having none of their starters in the secondary, the Redskins weren't about to quit in the last game of the year.

2. Montez Sweat had one of his best games.

Speaking of the defense, rookie first-round pick Montez Sweat was balling out.

The coaching staff has been pleased with Sweat's progress all season, and after linebacker Ryan Kerrigan was placed on Injured Reserve, Sweat became a more featured addition of the defense.

On Sunday afternoon, Sweat gave the Redskins one of his best examples as to why they were smart to trade up to get him in the 2019 NFL Draft. Sweat was all over the field with five tackles -- all of them solo -- two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits.

Two of Sweat's pressures on Prescott found their mark. The first of Sweat's two sacks came on the second play of the Cowboys' fourth drive. Sweat brought Prescott down for a four-yard loss and knocked loose for a fumble. The Redskins recovered it and eventually scored their first points of the game off a 31-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins.

Sweat finished his rookie year with 50 tackles and seven sacks. Sunday was his first game with two sacks.

3. Steven Sims and Hale Hentges both had big games.

The Redskins' offense struggled throughout the game, as they only had 217 total yards compared to Dallas' 517. There were times where it gained some momentum, and that involved getting Sims or Hentges the ball.

Keenum finished the game with 206 passing yards, and the duo of Hentges and Sims combined for 143 of them on nine combined receptions. They led the team with seven and eight targets, respectively, and they both averaged at least 15 yards per completion.

Sims was electric throughout the game, showing off his speed and tremendous growth as a receiver. He scored the team's only touchdown in the second quarter -- his fourth in three games -- on a six-yard pass to cap off a 10-play, 74-yard drive.

But the best example of Sims' ability came in the third quarter. Down 27-13, Sims took a pass from Keenum in stride, switched directions, and sprinted down the left side of the field for 65 yards down to the Cowboys' 10-yard line, which led to another Hopkins field goal.

Sims' 81 yards and Hentges' 62 yards were both career highs, and as the team ends the season with some disappointment, both of them are examples of how good this young core of players can be in the future.

4. Hopkins was perfect and the team's main scorer.

It's been a tough season for the offense overall, and certainly the Redskins would rather leave the field with touchdowns than field goals. Still, Hopkins was reliable when he was called upon once again.

Hopkins was 3 of 3 on field goals during the game on distances of 31, 42 and 28 yards, respectively. His second brought the Redskins within a touchdown of tying the game 13-20, while his third made the score 27-16 and kept the game in reach.

Hopkins has consistently been a safety net for the Redskins since he joined the team in 2015, and that continued throughout the 2019 season. He finished the season 26 of 31 on field goals for 83% and only missed one of his 20 extra-point attempts. Hopkins has had a percentage of at least 81% in every season.

Hopkins has accounted 96 points when combining extra points and field goals. He had 10 points against the Cowboys, which is his third-highest of the year and the seventh game where he has had at least nine points.

Check out photos of the Washington Redskins during their regular season Week 17 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

5. Redskins finish the season 3-13 with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

The 2019 season was one rife with frustration from the players, coaches and fans, but there is a bright future starting on the horizon, and that starts with their pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Sunday's loss locked the Redskins into the No.2 overall pick behind the Cincinnati Bengals. The Detroit Lions (3-12-1), New York Giants (4-12) and the Miami Dolphins (5-11) round out the top five.

The Redskins have plenty of options at their disposal with the pick. With Dwayne Haskins as the quarterback of the future, they can address other positions. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is projected by most draft experts to be a top pick along with Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

The Redskins could also trade out of the pick to acquire future assets. The team currently does not have a second-round pick after using it to trade back into the first round of last year's draft to acquire Sweat, so it's possible that any future trade would involve getting back into the second round.

And after considering the way the Redskins' young core of receivers, tight ends and multiple players on defense have come into their own as players over the course of the season, the team could be set for an upswing next year.

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