LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys were quick to avert their eyes from an ugly performance against the Washington Redskins and look ahead to the playoffs, where they will own home-field advantage.
The Redskins (9-7) dominated Dallas in a 27-6 win on Sunday. Washington will enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the NFC.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, sputtered at the finish line of a brilliant regular season, raising questions about whether they could be destined for another early playoff exit.
After the game, head coach Wade Phillips acknowledged what was easy to see: The Redskins were motivated, and the Cowboys weren’t.
“Basically, I didn’t get our team ready to play,” he said.
But he said the team came away without injuries and would be ready for its first playoff game in two weeks. The Cowboys get a first-round bye.
“They’re going to be ready, I can guarantee you that,” he said. “This is the only game we didn’t win on the road. I didn’t get ‘em ready to play. I think we would have won this one if I had them ready to play.”
Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said he won’t carry any memories of Sunday’s loss into the postseason: “I forgot about it already.”
Sunday’s game ultimately turned out to be irrelevant — other than to serve as a possible preview of a game two weeks from now. Minnesota lost 22-19 to Denver and New Orleans fell 33-25 to Chicago, giving Washington the two out-of-town results it needed to make the postseason without having to beat the Cowboys.
But beat the Cowboys they did, albeit a Dallas team that rested anyone who was questionable with an injury because it had clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Still, the Cowboys played their healthy starters most of the game and were trailing 20-3 when quarterback Tony Romo was pulled in the third quarter.
“The word for us was uninspired. It shows when one team is fired up to play and one team isn’t,” Phillips said.
The Cowboys (13-3), who will have a bye next week, tried to muster any motivation they could find, but almost none of their goals were realized. They had hoped to win a 14th regular-season game for the first time in franchise history. Jason Witten caught only two passes, falling four short of becoming the second tight end to get 100 in a season. Receiver Terry Glenn, active for the first time all season, failed to catch a pass.
Marion Barber not only finished 25 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season, but Barber (minus-6 yards) and Julius Jones (7) combined for 1 yard — setting a new franchise record for rushing futility. The Cowboys defense allowed a 100-yard rusher for the first time this season. The offense went 0-for-11 converting third downs, and Dallas lost its season finale for the eighth straight year.
At least Romo (7-for-16 for 86 yards and an interception) set the single-season franchise record for completions (335). And four injured starters — including Terrell Owens — got extra time to heal, although Phillips said Owens would be “iffy” for the playoffs.
“We didn’t even show up on the field,” safety Roy Williams said. “We may have showed up physically, but mentally and everything else, we didn’t show up.”