Arlington, Texas — Dak Prescott was getting X-rays on his swollen right hand when rookie Ryan Switzer scored his first career touchdown on an 83-yard punt return.
The extra time with the Dallas offense on the sideline kept Prescott from missing any plays, and last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year led the Cowboys to their first win after three straight losses without suspended star running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Prescott threw two touchdown passes, including a franchise record-breaker to Dez Bryant, in the Cowboys’ 38-14 victory over Washington on Thursday night.
The injury happened in the second quarter when Prescott’s right hand was hit by linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons just as he made an option pitch to Rod Smith. Thanks to Switzer’s dash to the end zone, Prescott never left the game.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever broken my hand,” Prescott said. “I couldn’t grip initially right after because the (hand) swelled up on me so bad. As I said, they wrapped it up, got the swelling down and I was fine.”
Bryant’s leaping 13-yard leaping in the end zone was the 2014 All-Pro’s first score in six games and 72nd of his career, one more than Hall of Famer Bob Hayes.
The Cowboys (6-6) never trailed despite a sluggish start to the offense, thanks to three first-half turnovers and four overall by Washington (5-7). Dallas kept it going after halftime with a 21-7 scoring edge after getting outscored, 72-6, in the second half of three straight losses without Elliott.
Alfred Morris, Elliott’s replacement during the six-game suspension for alleged domestic violence, had 127 yards rushing and a clinching touchdown.
The Cowboys forced NFL-leading Philadelphia to wait until at least Sunday to clinch the division title. But Dallas still faces a steep climb to playoff contention, and two more games without Elliott.
Washington already had been eliminated in the division race and are virtually out of the postseason picture after Kirk Cousins threw two interceptions and lost a fumble while throwing two touchdown passes.
Jamison Crowder let the pass go through his hands on Cousins’ first interception and fumbled on a Dallas punt a few plays later in Washington’s fourth straight loss to the Cowboys, the longest such streak in the series since 2003-04.
“It was just miscues,” Cousins said. “A dropped ball here, we had a nice drive down the field the second drive, just a tough turnover, and then it was one thing after another that were just mistakes. They happen, and we have to correct them.”
By the time Washington answered Switzer’s punt return with a 75-yard drive that ended with Cousins’ 20-yard scoring pass to Ryan Grant, Prescott was ready to return. He had been holding his right hand in his helmet once he returned to the sideline.
Rookie backup Cooper Rush (Central Michigan) had his helmet on when Washington punted.
“If we didn’t have the return by Switz, Cooper Rush would have got in the ballgame at that point,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We got the return, Dak was able to come back out.”
Prescott only threw for 102 yards, but didn’t have a turnover after throwing five interceptions and losing three fumbles without a touchdown pass during the losing streak.
And the Cowboys looked more like the offense they have when Elliott is around, with Morris picking up big yardage on clock-killing drives with the Cowboys in front.
Cousins moved the Washington offensive sporadically because he was consistently harassed behind a patchwork offensive line that had to shuffle some more because of injuries. Cousins, who was 26-of-37 for 251 yards, was replaced by Colt McCoy late in the fourth quarter.
DeMarcus Lawrence, the NFL sacks leader most of the first half of the season, had two of Dallas’ four sacks, ending a two-game drought and extending his career high to 13.5. Cousins was hit hard by David Irving on a sack in the fourth quarter.
WINSTON DENIES REPORT
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been down this road before.
Winston, who has most recently been accused of sexually assaulting an Uber driver, spoke publically for the first time Thursday and denied the allegations against him, according to an ESPN report.
“I have no fear at all (of being suspended). But I have to respect (the NFL’s) process,” Winston said. “I’m just going to respect the process, most importantly. That’s all I can do.”
Before his comments Thursday, Winston, who has been dealing with a shoulder issue recently, issued a statement shortly after the allegations came to light, denying any wrongdoing.
Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby, who was a teammate of Winston’s at Florida State, came to the quarterback’s defense in a statement.
“There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported,” Darby said in a statement to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport earlier in November. “Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”
As the ESPN report notes, this isn’t the first time Winston has been accused of sexual assault, as the quarterback was accused of rape during his college playing days, leading to a $950,000 settlement between the woman and Florida State.