The Dallas Cowboys came into Week 17 needing a small miracle to clinch a playoff birth. And, to be honest, it looked like it could come true for about three quarters of the afternoon.
Unfortunately the Giants fell apart in the fourth quarter of their own season finale, allowing the Eagles to win the division and rendering the Cowboys' 47-16 win meaningless.
So for the final time in 2019, let's get into my game notes.
- This might've been the best game Jaylon Smith's played all season. Smith was all over field during the Cowboys victory, finishing with 6 tackles and a rare interception to open the game. Often criticized this season for inconsistent play, Jaylon Smith showed up in a big way during this one and looked like his 2018-self. Smith was playing fast, sideline to sideline as a linebacker and even was disruptive as a pass rusher when asked to blitz. When he plays to this level, you can see why the Cowboys opted to extend Jaylon Smith this offseason.
- Dak Prescott had his best game in weeks. Prescott went 23/33 for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus he added 35 yards on the ground. It was the perfect Prescott game, playing in complete control of the offense and operating with high efficiency on his pass attempts. The shoulder is clearly still an issue, though, and he'll need this offseason to rest up and get ready for what I hope will be his first season under a new contract with the Cowboys.
- Was this the best game Michael Gallup's young career? Gallup caught 5 balls for 98 yards including 3 touchdowns during this blowout win. He did it in multiple ways too. Gallup showed his ability in the back of the end zone with a toe-tap grab, and created some big YAC on his third touchdown later in the game. The combo of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup should be a scary one for opposing defenses for years to come.
- Joe Looney deserves a shoutout. After filling in the entirety of the 2018 season at center, Looney saw his first start in 2019 at guard. And he played pretty well! The signature play of Looney's afternoon came on Ezekiel Elliott's big touchdown run, where Looney pulled to the second level and absolutely de-cleated a Redskins defender to free Zeke for the score. Looney has been a constant pro in Dallas and has played pretty well when needed due to injuries.
- While congratulating players for strong performances is fun, we have to be honest about what this season was. A complete and total disappointment. The 2019 Cowboys were supposed to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, the best version of America's Team in two decades. Yet all we saw was the same Dallas Cowboys we seem to see every year. Just not good enough. The Jason Garrett era is likely over in Dallas, and a new coach will be asked to maximize the talent currently on the roster while also building through the outside. Dallas will have the 17th overall pick in this year's draft, and they'll need to make the most of it after a lackluster showing from their 2019 class. It won't be easy to right this ship for 2020, but the key pieces do seem to be in place for whoever is hired as the head coach going forward.