Slump… what slump?
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott exploded in an incredible first-half display to bury Washington Football team 56-14 on Monday.
Frustrations quickly boiled over on the Washington bench early in the game, with defensive linemen Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen clashing.
The linemen appeared to be huddling to regroup before Allen took exception to something that was said and threw a punch at Payne.
The pair had to be broken up on the sideline.
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There was no such drama for Dallas, who enjoyed a dominant opening to the game.
Prescott threw four touchdowns on a season-high 321 yards in the opening half, passing the 299 set by Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow only earlier on Monday.
It was exactly the kind of statement Dallas needed to make after its once red-hot offence stalled in the past month.
The Cowboys headed into Monday’s game with Washington averaging 351.4 yards in their last seven outings, a steep decline from the 454.9 yards they averaged in the first seven games of the season.
Dallas owner Jerry Jones had even admitted earlier in the week that quarterback Prescott was in a bit of a “slump” in an interview with ‘105.3 The Fan’.
“I don’t want to say [it’s a] slump, but that’s probably fair,” Jones said.
“It’s such a multifaceted evaluation. I would say that our offense is definitely away from where we were 5-6 weeks ago.”
Prescott though returned to his best on Monday, sharing the ball around to nine different receivers in the opening half as five different players scored.
Washington could only manage 128 yard in the first half, with quarterback Taylor Heinicke going 5-of-14 for 93 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Washington added another touchdown in the second half but the damage was already done in a dominant Dallas win.
AUSSIE’S BRUTAL MOVE IMPRESSES NFL ANALYST AFTER ‘SHOCK’ SNUB
Australian Jordan Mailata is a key part of one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and had been right up there in contention for the Pro Bowl team.
But the Philadelphia Eagles left tackle missed out on selection alongside teammate Lane Johnson, a decision that left quarterback Jalen Hurts stumped.
“Both of those guys are tremendous players and I think we have a number of players that played at a very high level all year,” Hurts said Friday.
“You see Jordan Mailata out there balling and keeping me clean, you see Lane out there doing what he’s done for a very long time. They’re Pro Bowlers in my book. They’re Pro Bowlers in my book. Kind of shocked to see that, for sure.”
Johnson answered back on Monday as he caught a five-yard touchdown pass alongside another dominant all-round display.
“I’m not going to swear but it was f***ing awesome,” the Australian said post-game of his teammate’s touchdown.
Mailata also continued to prove himself a key cog in the Philadelphia offensive line with another destructive performance in their 34-10 victory over the New York Giants.
NFL Analyst Brian Baldinger pointed towards one moment from Mailata in the win over the Giants to prove that point.
“Think of a football field as a sandbox to Jordan Mailata,” he said in a video posted to Twitter.
“Watch him have some holiday fun. He’s pointing to his man, Leonard Williams, watch what he does. How he displaces him and there is nothing Leonard Williams can do.
“But he’s [Mailata] not done. Just because Boston Scott tripped over, Jordan Mailata is not done. No. Let me just throw him out of my sand box. Get out of here. I don’t want it.”
Mailata was asked about not being voted to Pro Bowl on Friday but had a simple message.
“Not everybody knows my name, but they will one day,” he said.
“The sun’s still shining, the check’s still clearing, and I love playing for this city”
Defence carried the Eagles to victory after a slow start against the Giants, with the two sides locked at 3-all at halftime.
DeVonta Smith and Hurts found their groove in the second half though along with the entire Philadelphia offence as the Eagles climbed into the No. 7 and final playoff seed in the NFC.
Philadelphia boasts a 8-7 record with two regular-season games left and will have total control over where they finish.
DIGGS EXPLODES AS BILLS WIN CRUCIAL DIVISIONAL SHOWDOWN
When quarterback Josh Allen found Stefon Diggs in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown, the Buffalo Bills star receiver had an expletive-ridden message for some New England Patriots fans.
“You, you, you, you and you… shut the f*** up,” he was heard telling the crowd as the Bills went up early against their divisional rivals.
That message might has well but put on a megaphone for the rest of the league as Buffalo rediscovered the best version of its offence to regain first place in the AFC East.
Having been held to just 10 points in their defeat to the Patriots earlier this month, the Bills found far more success this time around, scoring on six of seven possessions.
Allen was the shining light in that earlier meeting with Bill Belichick, carrying Buffalo’s otherwise non-existent run game and ended up in a walking boot for his troubles.
The Bills quarterback led from the front again, finishing the game completing 30 of his 47 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns.
With that effort, Allen joined Peyton manning as the only player with multiple three-touchdown games at New England under Belichick.
Allen did not have two of his weapons available in receivers Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis but Isaiah McKenzie stepped up to fill the void.
He finished the game with a career-high 11 catches, 125 yards and a touchdown.
New England had dominated on the ground in their 14-10 win over Buffalo earlier this month, recording 200-plus yards.
Mac Jones attempted just three passes that night in wet conditions and changed his approach this time around with little success.
BURROW’S RECORD-BREAKING DAY AS BENGALS GO OFF
A horror run with injury has robbed Joe Burrow of the chance to show his true potential.
But on Monday morning, Burrow showed just how good he can be with a passing masterclass as the Cincinnati Bengals cruised to a 41-21 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
Records tumbled as Burrow helped Cincinnati shore up its spot atop the AFC North, with the 25-year-old throwing for a franchise record 525 yards — the third most in NFL history.
He also became the second quarterback ever to have an 80 per cent passing rating while recording 500 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Burrow finished the day completing 37 of 46 passes, including a 68-yard throw for a Tyler Boyd score.
Second-year receiver Tee Higgins feasted on the Burrow masterclass, finishing the game with 12 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
It was a tough outing for the Ravens, who started third-string quarterback Josh Johnson in place of the sick Tyler Huntley and injured Lamar Jackson.
INJURY-HIT BUCS BACK ON TRACK AS PANTHERS QB MYSTERY DEEPENS
Elsewhere, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rebounded from last week’s shutout loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Brady and the Bucs showed few signs of rust on the offensive end without injured trio Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, surging to a 32-6 win over the Carolina Panthers.
The win saw Tampa Bay clinch their first NFC South division title since 2007.
Brady finished 18-for-30 with 232 passing yards and a touchdown pass while Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Ronald Jones II filled the gap left by Fournette with a score each.
Antonio Brown made an instant impact in his return from suspension, taking 10 catches for 101 yards.
Carolina, meanwhile, seems no closer to working out its long-term answer at quarterback with Sam Darnold returning from injury to take gametime away from Cam Newton.
Fourth-year quarterback Darnold was booed as he made his comeback but the quarterback rotation could not produce results.
Neither quarterback managed a touchdown, with Newton completing seven of 13 passes for 61 yards along with one interception.
He was left standing on his own at the 25-yard line with his helmet off for most of the fourth quarter.
“Me, the whole Charlotte community, we deserve better,” Newton said post-game.
“Hell, I want better…I heard the boos, I heard the chants, but last time I checked coach Rhule wasn’t out there playing.”
As for what he was thinking while standing on the sideline, Newton added: “Football has been good to me. I was able to walk away unscathed. I don’t want to sound like I’m retiring, but I’ve had some great memories… It takes more than one guy.”
Darnold, meanwhile, was given more of an opportunity and finished the game 15 of 32 for 190 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.
“We planned on putting Sam in the second or third series,” Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said.
“Obviously Cam did a great job on the first drive… the second drive we had the interception which led to points for them so we put Sam in.”
Rhule went on to credit Newton and Darnold for their mental toughness in the face of a harsh reception from the Carolina fans.
’We’re not winning… I would much prefer passion over apathy,” he added.
TEXANS SHOCK CHARGERS
This was not supposed to happen.
The Houston Texans had 18 players on the Covid-19 list, including eight starters on defence, leading wide receiver Brandin Cooks and three starters on the offensive end.
Sure, the Los Angeles Chargers also had 13 players on the Covid-19 list themselves, including Austin Eekler and Mike Williams.
But this is a Chargers team with everything to play for, entering Monday’s action as the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoff picture, while the Texans had won only three games all year.
Los Angeles though struggled to contain the run game as Houston ran out shock 41-29 winners, with Rex Burkhead scoring two touchdowns.
Second-year quarterback Justin Herbert had 336 passing yards but was picked off twice as third-round rookie QB Davis Mills impressed for Houston.
He completed 21 of 27 passes for 254 yards to go with two touchdowns, including a 41-yard throw for Chris Conley before halftime.
The loss sees the Chargers drop to 8-7 on the season and behind the Bills and Bengals in the wild-card hunt.
BIG DRAFT IMPLICATIONS IN LOWLY CLASH
For a meaningless game, Jets-Jaguars was pretty entertaining.
The game Monday featured a 102-yard kickoff return, a 52-yard touchdown run by Jets quarterback Zach Wilson and two touchdowns by offensive linemen.
The Jets prevailed 26-21 in this meeting between NFL cellar-dwellers at MetLife Stadium. The game might only be remembered for its effect on next April’s NFL draft.
The Jets are now 4-11, meaning they are highly unlikely to get one of the top two picks.
The Jaguars are 2-13 and in position to draft No. 1 overall.
Both teams had COVID-19 issues. The Jets had 20 players on the list, including defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, who landed on the list Sunday morning.
They were missing five starters on defense and had two safeties making their first starts of the season.
Jets coach Robert Saleh also was missing after testing positive for Covid.
Saleh had to watch the game on TV while tight ends coach Ron Middleton served as acting head coach.
Middleton showed no fear as he went for it on fourth down five times, including three times in the red zone.
The matchup between the quarterbacks taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall in this year’s draft was nothing special.
The highlight of Wilson’s day was the 52-yard touchdown run. He ran for 91 yards on four carries and threw for just 102 yards on 14 of 22 passing.
He also threw for a touchdown to offensive lineman Conor McDermott that gave the Jets a 23-15 lead in the fourth quarter.
Wilson did not throw any interceptions but had four passes that the Jaguars nearly picked.
Lawrence went 26 of 39 for 280 yards and had a fumble.
NFL WEEK 16 SCORES
TITANS 20 49ERS 17
PACKERS 24 BROWNS 22
CARDINALS 16 COLTS 22
FALCONS 20 LIONS 16
VIKINGS 23 RAMS 30
JETS 26 JAGUARS 21
EAGLES 34 GIANTS 10
PATRIOTS 21 BILLS 33
BENGALS 41 RAVENS 21
TEXANS 41 CHARGERS 29
PANTHERS 6 BUCCANEERS 32
SEAHAWKS 24 BEARS 25
RAIDERS 17 BRONCOS 13
CHIEFS 36 STEELERS 10