ARLINGTON, Texas — Kirk Cousins had the perfect game. He threw a few quick touchdown passes, kept his rhythm and headed to the bench early in a playoff tuneup for the Washington Redskins.
Cousins threw for three touchdowns before leaving late in the first half, and the Redskins finished the regular season with a 34-23 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
“It was perfect,” tight end Jordan Reed said. “He came out there hot, got it over with and got out.”
The statistical target for Cousins — or maybe more for the teammates who wanted him to have the record — was Jay Schroeder’s franchise mark for passing yards in a season.
Cousins got it on his second throw of the second quarter — a 28-yarder to Jamison Crowder after he had already thrown all three of his touchdown passes in the first. He finished with 176 yards for the game and 4,166 for the season, just the third 4,000-yard performance in team history.
Had the game mattered, he might have threatened Sonny Jurgensen’s 48-year-old team record of 31 touchdown passes, instead settling for 29.
“I’m happy for Kirk,” coach Jay Gruden said. “Kirk did a great job of staying within himself, and continuing to compete and study the game plan. He’s got a lot of confidence now. It’s great to see him progress. He’s got a chance to be a really good one.”
The Redskins (9-7) won four consecutive games to finish the season, their longest streak since winning the last seven the last time they made the playoffs in 2012. The NFC East champions will be the No. 4 seed on wild-card weekend, when they will host the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings or Seattle Seahawks.
Kellen Moore threw for 435 yards and three touchdowns after throwing an interception and losing a fumble on a snap to help dig a quick 21-0 hole for the Cowboys (4-12).
It’s the most losses for Dallas since going 1-15 in 1989, the year owner and general manager Jerry Jones bought the team.
The stunning reversal for last year’s 12-4 division champion in a season mostly without quarterback Tony Romo because of a twice-broken left collarbone.
“It’s probably been as difficult as any season we’ve been a part of,” said Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who scored his first touchdown since having two in the opener. “It makes for a long offseason, and you really can’t put into words how you feel coming off last year.”
Cousins became the first Washington quarterback to throw at least one scoring pass in all 16 regular-season games on a five-yard toss to Ryan Grant.
He also had a 39-yard touchdown throw to Pierre Garcon and a three-yarder to Crowder, the latter giving Washington a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter. He was replaced by backup Colt McCoy late in the second quarter.
By completing 12 of 15 passes for 176 yards, Cousins is likely to lead the NFL with a 69.8 completion percentage. Jurgensen was the only other Washington quarterback to do that when he did so in 1970.
The Redskins, who won their last three road games after starting 0-5 away from home, had a couple of injury scares in the first half, even though they were sitting several defensive starters.
Cornerback Dashaun Phillips was taken to a hospital after being taken off the field on a cart with his head immobilized. He had movement in his extremities. Gruden said he had a cervical stinger but tests indicated he would be OK.
Free safety Kyshoen Jarrett left the game with a concussion in the first quarter after a jarring collision with Dallas running back Darren McFadden. He was getting an MRI on his neck.
The finale had the look of a preseason game with plenty of empty seats at the $1.2 billion home of the Cowboys, and the feel of one with plenty of Washington subs in the second half. The Redskins cruised to the victory anyway.
“9-7 sounds a lot better than 8-8,” Cousins said. “In addition to that, we felt that it was important to go into the postseason with some momentum and on a rhythm.”
McFadden epitomized the Cowboys’ loss. He fumbled into the end zone on his way to an easy fourth-quarter touchdown, the last of four turnovers without a takeaway for the NFL’s worst team in turnover margin at minus-22.
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