Dallas Cowboys 2021 Season Review: Part Four Winning the Division, Losing the Wild Card


The Dallas Cowboy Defense | Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

The Cowboys winning ways continued as they began a three-game series against division opponents, visiting the Washington Football Team. McCarthy promised members of the media a victory, and the team followed through to win 27-20. Washington had a chance for a comeback with the ball late in the fourth quarter, but a Randy Gregory strip-sack recovered by the Dallas defense put the Week 14 game on ice. 

The next stop on the NFC East tour saw the Cowboys go into the Giants’ house and lay a smackdown for the second time this season. The Dallas defense ruled the day this time, forcing four turnovers and only allowing New York opportunities at two field goals. Malik Turner, Jourdan Lewis, and Trevon Diggs all recorded interceptions. The Cowboys walked away with a 21-6 victory and an unbeaten division record. 

For the second to last division game, the Cowboys returned to San Frisco for the second meeting with Washington in two weeks. This time, there were no late-game heroics required as the Cowboys’ offense punished Washington for a 56-14 victory. Dallas didn’t back down with the NFC East division title in hand before kickoff. Trevon Diggs took the game’s first pass for his eleventh interception, tying Everson Wells’s 1981 single-season record. A 42-7 halftime score meant Cooper Rush got playing time at QB for Dallas in the second half. 

The Arizona Cardinals came to Dallas in Week 16 in a match that was thought to be a likely playoff preview. The Cowboys running game managed only 45 yards. A furious 15-point fourth quarter wasn’t enough to secure a comeback victory as the Cardinals were able to go to victory formation after the two-minute warning. Dallas committed ten penalties in the game, the fourth time in the season with double-digit numbers. 

The season finale was a Saturday road game and the final game against an NFC East opponent in the Philadelphia Eagles. Victory or defeat for either team meant the possibility of a change in playoff seed and nothing more, but each team approached the game differently. 

The Eagles rested many of their starters in addition to numerous players who were out on Covid protocol. The Cowboys kept everyone on the field well into the second half. An early close game turned into a rout as the Cowboys went on to win 56-21 to end the season.

The Cowboys entered Super Wild Card Weekend as the number three seed in the NFC, drawing a match at home against the San Francisco 49ers. It was the first time Dallas had appeared in the postseason since 2018 and the first time they had faced the 49ers in the playoffs since 1994. 

The 49ers used a strong rushing attack to dominate the time of possession. Dallas’s controversial series of plays at the end of the fourth quarter led to what looked like a referee preventing the offense from snapping the ball to end the game. NFL rules state the official must set the ball before the ball is back in play. San Francisco advanced to the Divisional Round with a 23-17 victory. At the same time, Cowboys players and coaches entered the offseason. 

The Dallas Cowboys’ offense amassed 4,800 yards passing and 2,119 rushing in 2021. The team scored a total of 64 touchdowns and 29 field goals. The defense led the NFL in takeaways with 34, including 28 interceptions. Opponents scored only 39 touchdowns, and the defense delivered 41 quarterback sacks. 

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