By SCHUYLER DIXON
AP Pro Football Writer ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have to worry about the NFC East title anymore once they kicked off against Washington.
So they took care of the star quarterback’s slump instead.
Prescott threw four touchdown passes, DeMarcus Lawrence returned an interception for a score and the Cowboys celebrated their clinching
of the division crown with a 56-14 rout of Washington on Sunday night.
The Cowboys (11-4) tied the franchise record for points in a first half while taking a 42-7 lead and frustrating Washington to the point that defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne scuffled on the sideline.
Dallas didn’t need to win to add the division title to the playoff berth that was sealed with San Francisco’s loss to Tennessee three nights earlier. Las Vegas’ 17-13 victory over Denver took care of that about an hour before kickoff, giving the Cowboys a tiebreaker over Philadelphia.
Prescott and company didn’t seem to care, and now the Eagles can’t tie them for the division title after Dallas scored its most points, playoffs included, since a 59-14 victory over San Francisco in 1980.
“I don’t know if many people knew that we’d clinched before the game.
I didn’t,” Prescott said. “I don’t know if we’re in the world or in the business of trying to send messages more than we’re just trying to get better.”
Washington (6-9) allowed its most points since 2010 in the most-lopsided loss for either team in a storied rivalry played 124 times. Washington’s playoff hopes are faint, but not gone.
“I told them you play this game long enough, you’re going to get beat like this,” coach Ron Rivera said. “How you respond to it, how you bounce back, how you play, that tells more about you than anything else.”
Prescott tied the club record for passing TDs
in a half with four before halftime — one each to
a running back (Ezekiel Elliott), a tight end (Dalton Schultz), a receiver (Amari Cooper) and a backup tackle (Terence Steele, who was lined up as a tight end when Prescott faked the handoff for an easy 1-yard score ).
Taylor Heinicke, making a second consecutive start against Dallas after missing the game in between because of COVID-19, gave up Trevon Diggs’ NFL- leading 11th interception on the first offensive play for Washington, which
was playing five days after a coronavirus-delayed
loss to Philadelphia.
The Dallas offense took it from there, recording 389 yards before halftime as Prescott ended a run of mediocre showings by completing 22 of his first 25 passes and finishing