ARLINGTON, Texas — The plan for the playoff-bound Washington Redskins going into Sunday was not without its potential issues.
“You play to win the game and you also don’t want to lose anybody,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “There is a fine line in that. I felt like whatever decision I made could have been horribly wrong.”
No need to worry.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins passed for three touchdowns and the NFC East champions closed out the regular season by rolling past the Dallas Cowboys 34-23 Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.
Washington (9-7) heads into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, the team’s longest since 2012. The Redskins will host a wild-card playoff game next weekend with momentum on their side.
“It’s worth something,” Gruden said. “I’d rather do that than lose a couple of big games. Regardless of your winning streak or losing streak, come Saturday or Sunday next week, we’re going to have to come together and
play a great football game against a quality team.”
The Cowboys (4-12) had a merciful end to one of the worst seasons in franchise history. Injuries to quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant began a downward spiral one year after winning the East.
“Clearly, we didn’t get the job done, for a lot of different reasons,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We didn’t handle the adversity of the season very well.”
That title of East champ now belongs to the Redskins, who finished last in the division in six of the previous seven years.
Cousins did his damage early, connecting with receivers Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder and Ryan Grant on touchdowns as Washington raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
There’s no question the Redskins wanted to win the game.
“It was important — 9-7 sounds a lot better than 8-8,” Cousins said. “In addition to that, we felt like it was important to go into the playoffs with momentum and rhythm.
“We obviously felt good about the last three weeks winning three straight. We didn’t want to go into the playoffs having broken that streak, so to put together now four straight in the fourth quarter of the season is important.”