Dallas Cowboys to keep NFC East top-seed hopes alive against Titans

The Dallas Cowboys are still clinging onto hope for the NFC East.

Dallas earned a 27-13 win over the Tennessee Titans in the final Thursday night game of the season.

But not only are their division hopes alive – they have a (very) outside chance at the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Dallas would have to win next week, while the 13-2 Philadelphia Eagles would need to lose their final two games (this would give Dallas the division). But Minnesota and San Francisco each need to lose one of their next two games for Dallas to jump them in the standings.

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Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a 10 yard touchdown against Andrew Adams #47 of the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on December 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee

Dalton Schultz #86 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a 10 yard touchdown against Andrew Adams #47 of the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on December 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee
(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Tennessee entered Thursday by starting third-string QB Joshua Dobbs and without Derrick Henry, who is nursing a hip injury. It should be noted that Thursday’s result means quite literally nothing for the Titans – next week’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars will determine who wins the AFC South, and who goes home, so perhaps Tennessee opted to rest its star running back.

Dallas was given an opportunity, and they did not let it squander.

The Titans couldn’t move the ball much on offense for much of the first half. Ezekiel Elliott scored the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter, and Dallas added a field goal early in the second. After that, Dak Prescott fumbled a snap and threw an interception on their next two drives – Tennessee was able to cut their deficit to seven, but as Dallas was driving down the field for the two-minute drill, Prescott again threw a pick, and the Titans had the ball at the opposing 41-yard line. After an impressive catch-and-run by Treylon Burks, Randy Bullock knocked a 29-yard field goal to make it a 10-6 game at halftime.

At the start of the second half, a defensive pass interference brought the Cowboys from their own side of the field to the Titans’ 6-yard line, so Prescott dumped one off to tight end Dalton Schultz that put Dallas up 11. Dobbs answered back with the Titans’ best drive – and first touchdown – of the night, finding Robert Woods to make it a 17-13 game with just over two minutes to go in the third.

Joshua Dobbs #11 of the Tennessee Titans scrambles against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on December 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Joshua Dobbs #11 of the Tennessee Titans scrambles against the Dallas Cowboys during the third quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on December 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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But Dallas wasn’t fazed one bit. They came back with Schultz’s second touchdown of the night to regain an 11-point lead with 11:58 to go. After forcing the Titans’ fifth punt of the night, Brett Maher drilled another field goal to give Dallas a 27-13 lead, and the Titans were unable to update their side of the scoreboard.

Fantasy football owners probably weren’t thrilled with Prescott in the first half, but he did wind up throwing for 282 yards and two touchdowns, as Dallas was able to overcome his three turnovers. CeeDee Lamb led all receivers with 100 receiving yards on 11 catches.

As for Dobbs, in his first NFL start, he was 20-for-39 for 232 yards, throwing one touchdown and one pick. He also fumbled twice, losing one and recovering his other.

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown scored by Dalton Schultz #86 against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on December 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown scored by Dalton Schultz #86 against the Tennessee Titans during the fourth quarter of the game at Nissan Stadium on December 29, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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Dallas (12-4) will end their season at the nation’s capital against the Commanders, as Tennessee (7-9) now gears up for what is now the AFC South championship game in northeast Florida. It’s not known if Dobbs or Malik Willis will start in that game.

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