The only sour note to another accomplished victory on Sunday, the Redskins' secondary received two big blows when it lost Kyshoen Jarrett and Dashaun Phillips to injury in the first half against the Cowboys. *
In what would have otherwise been a banner final game of the regular season, with quarterback Kirk Cousins breaking multiple records, staying healthy and laying the groundwork for a 34-23 victory over the Cowboys to complete a 9-7 season, two brutal first-half injuries dampened the final result Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
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.
First to defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett, then to cornerback Dashaun Phillips, and in nearly identical fashion, both suffered head and neck injuries after helmet-to-helmet collisions with Cowboys running back Darren McFadden.
Needing the aid of trainers, Jarrett walked off the field, severely shaken up, while Phillips needed a stretcher and neck brace before being taken to a local hospital. It was later announced that Phillips had movement in all his extremities and both players were expected to fly back to Washington, D.C., on the team plane.
The severity of each of their injuries will be found out early in the week.
"It was a scary moment man," cornerback Quinton Dunbar said. "Those are two great guys who are well respected on the team, especially in the defensive back room."
Each play demanded lengthy huddles with staff trainers and a funereal atmosphere quickly surrounded the scene of the collision. Players knelt down and prayed and came up to greet each player once doctors had cleared the area -- or in Phillips' case, once he had been strapped into place.
It was another devastating blow to the Redskins' depth, specifically in the secondary, which has lost many players for extended periods of time throughout the season. The injuries forced head coach Jay Gruden into keeping some of his starters out for the entire game, a decision he was hoping to avoid as the Redskins prepare to host a playoff game next week.
"I was [concerned]," Gruden said. "We were short coming in. [Dashon Goldson] was out and then we lost obviously Kyshoen, and just hope and pray that he's going to be okay and Phillips looks like he's going to be okay, which is good news. But the other guys stepped up, [Will] Blackmon played a full game, didn't anticipate that. [Bashaud] Breeland played a whole game, didn't anticipate that, but they did it and they played well."
Midway through the first quarter, with the Cowboys at midfield, McFadden took a handoff up the middle and after about four yards met Jarrett head on. McFadden walked away seemingly unhurt, but Jarrett fell to the floor, his legs flopping back and forth while his torso remained motionless.
After several minutes on the field, trainers helped him off and Jarrett, holding back tears of frustration, was immediately listed as questionable to return, but downgraded to out soon thereafter, after being evaluated for a concussion.
The following play, Will Compton picked off Kellen Moore thanks to an overthrown ball towards tight end Jason Witten.
"At half time you could see he had tears in his eyes and you feel for him because he's a big asset to our team," Compton said of Jarrett. "More importantly, he's a good guy to have around and he works tremendously hard. It was more tears out of disappointment than him hurting, but I hope he's alright. It's tough to see him go down because, like I said, he's a big asset to our team and a great person."
As the first half neared its conclusion, the Cowboys drove down the field and faced a first-and-goal opportunity. McFadden got the handoff and cut to the left side, delivering another big blow into a gang of Redskins tacklers. Phillips, who was celebrating his birthday on Sunday, endured the worst of the hit, a shot to the neck and shoulder area that made contact with his helmet.
He immediately collapsed to the ground and the entire defense came towards the end zone to show their support in silence.
"I know it is part of the game and injuries come, but it's still a scary sight to see them have to bring the stretcher out and everything," said cornerback Deshazor Everett, who calls Phillips his brother. "I'm just praying that everything's okay with him. We don't know anything right now, so I'm just waiting to see. I'll pray for him, and that's all I can do right now at this point. But all prayers for him."
Before he was carted off the field, Jean Francois approached him to tap the stretcher and give him some words of encouragement.
"Man, we just want you back," Jean Francois told him. "My prayers go up to him and I hope he gets back on the field. I'm hoping it's just something minor, but I just pray and hope that he comes back. We need him man. We need him."
Jarrett stepped nicely into the nickel cornerback position this year, acquiring 58 tackles and a forced fumble in his first season in the NFL. After getting activated to the 53-man roster on Thanksgiving, Phillips has five tackles to his name, and has slowly become an important special teams player.
"I'm not going to lie, I was getting nervous, guys were getting low, I'm like, 'Aw man, what are we going to do now?'" Blackmon said. "But saying a prayer for those guys for Phillips and Kyshoen. Me and Phillips, we got signed at the same time and I kind of took him in like a little brother, and Kyshoen, he and I we just have fun together, so, definitely, it's a tough game out there and can't take it for granted, you never know."