Cowboys deliver on coach’s guarantee, beat rival Washington

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Washington Football Team quarterback Taylor Heinicke (4) fumbles the ball as he is sacked by Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker Micah Parsons (11) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Landover, Md. Dallas recovered the ball and scored a touchdown on this play. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Micah Parsons sacked Taylor Heinicke twice and forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, helping the Dallas Cowboys make good on coach Mike McCarthy’s guarantee by holding on to beat Washington 27-20 Sunday and snap their rival’s winning streak at four.

Dallas led 24-0 and 27-8 before Kyle Allen replaced Heinicke and led a 73-yard TD drive and Cole Holcomb intercepted Dak Prescott and ran it back for a pick-6. Washington’s comeback bid came to an end when Allen fumbled with 2:24 remaining.

The Cowboys staked themselves to such a big lead thanks to a big first-half showing by their defense. Dallas forced four turnovers and had five sacks.

Doran Armstrong recovered the fumble Parsons forced and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, and Randy Gregory picked off Heinicke and forced Allen to fumble on a sack the day after he was activated off injured reserve. Armstrong and his teammates celebrated his TD with some of the many Cowboys fans in attendance for what felt like a home game for the leaders in the NFC East, complete with custom benches on the visiting sideline.

In the aftermath of McCarthy saying, “We’re going to win this game — I’m confident in that,” his team sputtered late but took care of business. Prescott threw for 211 yards with a touchdown pass to Amari Cooper and two interceptions, Ezekiel Elliott ran 12 times for 45 yards through a knee injury and the Cowboys (9-4) distanced themselves from Washington (6-7) in the NFC East.

Tensions boiled over with 10:29 left when Washington rookie William Bradley-King — promoted off the practice squad in the morning because of COVID-19 absences — shoved Prescott near the Cowboys sideline. Elliott shoved Bradley-King, and Dallas right tackle La’el Collins was ejected for his role in the skirmish.

With blue and white jerseys outnumbering burgundy and gold at FedEx Field, the Cowboys made themselves at home by ordering heated benches with the silver star logo and team wordmarks. Owner Jerry Jones made a point this week to say the D.C. area is his team’s biggest concentration of fans outside Texas.

By far the biggest crowd to witness a Washington home game this season saw Heinicke get sacked four times and exit with a left knee injury. Heinicke finished 11 of 25 for 122 yards, a 43-yard TD pass to Cam Sims and a diving 2-point conversion after his miserable first half.

Antonio Gibson fumbled for the sixth time this season, Allen was 4 of 9 for 53 yards and Washington’s streak came to a screeching half after allowing 18 points in the first quarter — more than it was giving up per game over the past month.

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