Confusion reigned at the end of the San Francisco 49ers' dramatic Wild Card victory over the Dallas Cowboys, but Kyle Shanahan only had a brief doubt his team would have to face a Hail Mary in a bizarre finish.

The Niners controlled the game and held a Dallas offense that had averaged over 400 yards per game in the regular season to just 307 in their 23-17 success.

Yet San Francisco gave the Cowboys a chance to complete a remarkable comeback with 32 seconds left after their failure to execute a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches turned possession back to Dallas.

The Cowboys promptly drove to San Francisco's 41-yard line in just three plays, before a bemusing play call from Dallas to run the ball with quarterback Dak Prescott despite having no timeouts sealed the game for the Niners.

Prescott and the Dallas offense frantically tried to get set up to spike the ball to stop the clock and prevent time from expiring. However, Prescott handed the ball to center Tyler Biadasz to spot the ball.

NFL rules state the ball must be spotted by an official and umpire Ramon George ran in to do just that, colliding with Prescott and Biadasz in the process and leading to a delay that prevented Prescott from spiking it before the clock hit triple zeros, meaning the 49ers never had to face a Hail Mary from the 24-yard line that could have settled a thrilling contest in the Cowboys' favour.

Shanahan and the Niners strode onto the field in celebration after time ran out, with the Niners head coach admitting to brief concern time would be put back on the clock.

"I thought it was over because I saw it live," Shanahan said. "I was very confident it was done. I was just nervous.

"Sometimes when you're real confident you think you see it right. Sometimes it changes. So you're never fully sure until they let you know."

Explaining the false start from tackle Trent Williams that kept the game alive and negated a successful quarterback sneak from Jimmy Garoppolo, Shanahan added: "We just shifted to an unbalanced [line].

"It was on the silent count and it was quarterback sneak all the way, but Jimmy got really excited because of the look. Didn't let Trent get set. He's got to let him get set.

"It ended up not being a problem, though it would have been a struggle to answer that one if it was."

The Niners will next face the top-seeded Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday in a rematch of a Week 3 encounter in which the Packers prevailed on a last-second field goal after some late Aaron Rodgers heroics.

"I'm sure I'll be thinking a lot about it here on the plane," Shanahan said. "But they've had a hell of a year. I'm glad we get an opportunity to go up against them again.

"They've been unbelievable. So, we'll rest up here. We'll enjoy this plane ride, and we'll get back to work right when we land."

Dak Prescott felt he had spiked the ball in time to get one more shot at a game-winning touchdown in a bizarre ending to their Wild Card round defeat to the San Francisco 49ers.

Prescott and a Cowboys offense that led the NFL in yards per game was frustrated by an excellent performance from San Francisco's defense as Dallas suffered a 23-17 upset loss.

In a rollercoaster finish, the 49ers appeared to have clinched the game with a fourth-down quarterback sneak from Jimmy Garoppolo, however, a false start penalty negated that play and allowed the Cowboys to gain possession with 32 seconds left. 

They efficiently moved down to San Francisco's 41-yard line in three plays but the Cowboys then inexplicably called a quarterback run play with Prescott despite having no timeouts.

That set up a mad dash to spike the ball and prevent time from expiring, however, Prescott handed the ball to center Tyler Biadasz to spot the ball. NFL rules state the ball must be spotted by an official and umpire Ramon George ran in to do just that, colliding with Prescott and Biadasz in the process and leading to a delay that prevented Prescott from spiking it before the clock hit triple zeros, meaning a potential game-winning Hail Mary never came to fruition.

"I thought I did [spike the ball in time],” Prescott said. "I didn't hear what the ref said, what their announcement was. I just saw them running off the field and the Niners running on the field and celebrating, so understood what had happened.

"We were going to get some yards and get down and clock it. It's something we've practiced over and over again. Ran. Went and got some yards. Went down. As I was getting behind Tyler, saw four seconds left. I thought there was obviously time to make sure everybody was set, and then honestly, just got hit from behind. Still, when I got up [under center], I saw two seconds. I thought I could get the snap and get it down before time expired. I'm not sure what happened other than that."

In his pool report after the game, referee Alex Kemp insisted umpire George had done everything correctly in spotting the ball.

Prescott added: "We've practiced it. You hand it to the center. The umpire, all he has to do is usually come in and tap the ball. Yeah, I mean, don't necessarily know exactly why the hit happened, I guess. I knew he was going to come in and touch the ball. You can say, yeah, he needs to be closer to the ball or whatever. In hindsight, just tough. Yeah, tough to accept.”

"I'd like to get a play off, knowing everything that happened, thinking that I spiked the ball in time,” Prescott said. "I mean with the official getting in the way of the play as well. Tough. Tough. Just tough."

The San Francisco 49ers survived a fourth-quarter comeback from the Dallas Cowboys to claim a dramatic 23-17 upset win in the Wild Card round.

Despite losing Nick Bosa to a concussion and linebacker Fred Warner to an ankle injury, the 49ers' defense held a Cowboys offense that led the NFL in yards per game with 407 to just 17 points, and it was the resistance of that group that ultimately proved decisive.

Yet such a summation does a disservice to a wild finish in which the Niners looked to have won the game several times, only to give the Cowboys hope as this historic rivalry delivered another classic in the first playoff meeting between the two teams since the 1994 season.

Dallas got the ball back with 32 seconds left and needing a touchdown to win and moved to San Francisco's 41-yard line in three plays, but an inexplicable decision to run the ball with quarterback Dak Prescott saw time expire on the game and the Cowboys' season as the 49ers progressed to a Divisional Round meeting with the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The 49ers set their stall out with a dominant seven-play, 75-yard drive to start the game that ended with a four-yard touchdown scamper by rookie running back Elijah Mitchell.

San Francisco tacked on two field goals to make it 13-0 before Prescott hit back with a superb 20-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper.

Another three-pointer gave San Francisco a 16-7 half-time lead and their defense continued to hold Prescott in check after the break even with star edge rusher Bosa ruled out. 

Prescott was sacked five times and when he was intercepted by K'Waun Williams and versatile wide receiver Deebo Samuel pounced on that turnover with a 26-yard rushing touchdown a blowout appeared on the cards.

Dallas, though, pulled back within 13 points with a Greg Zuerlein field goal and an overthrown interception by Jimmy Garoppolo teed up Prescott to fray the nerves with a five-yard rushing score.

San Francisco's job looked to be done when a deep fourth-down throw from Prescott fell incomplete and the Niners should have been celebrating victory when Garoppolo executed a quarterback sneak on fourth and inches, only for that play to be called back for a false start.

However, the Cowboys could not capitalise on that reprieve despite their initial progress down the field, Prescott and center Tyler Biadasz forgetting that an official needed to spot the ball after his run in the final seconds, with a collision between a referee and Biadasz before he spotted the ball meaning the clock hit triple zeros before the quarterback could spike it to set up a Hail Mary attempt.

After the Patriots saw their playoff campaign emphatically come to an end on Saturday, the man who left New England to further his legacy begins his quest for an eighth ring on Sunday.

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be expected to win in routine fashion in their Wild Card round matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, while the team they beat in last season's Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs, are anticipated to end Ben Roethlisberger's career with a routine victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sandwiched between those two potential blowouts is the game of the weekend as two storied rivals, the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys, contest a long overdue renewal of acquaintances in the postseason.

As Stats Perform's look at Sunday's action explains, both the Niners and the Cowboys possess the offense firepower to ensure the matchup lives up to its lofty expectations.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The defending champion Bucs are unsurprisingly the heavy favourites against an Eagles team that claimed nine wins in the regular season, none of which came against an opponent that made the postseason.

Not much stock will be put in the history of this encounter, even if it does make pleasant reading for any Eagles fans looking for reason for hope.

The Eagles and Buccaneers have split their 20 all-time meetings, with each team winning eight regular-season games and two in postseason play. Their only postseason matchup in Tampa was a 24-17 win by the Bucs in 1979, their first-ever playoff win.

All eyes at Raymond James Stadium will be on Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who is set for another piece of history in his seemingly endless career.

Brady will be playing in his 19th postseason and in his 46th career playoff start, the most by any player in NFL history. At age 44, Brady will break his own record for the oldest quarterback to start a playoff game. Brady has more playoff wins since turning 36 years old (17) than any other QB has in his entire career.

Dak Prescott deflected praise after setting new milestones with the most touchdowns in a single season in Dallas Cowboys history and a career-high five touchdowns in Saturday's 51-26 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The 28-year-old Cowboys quarterback completed 21 of 27 passes for 295 yards and five touchdowns against the under-strength Eagles.

Prescott, who missed the bulk of last season with an ankle injury, went past Tony Romo (36) for the most touchdown passes in a single season.

"It's special," Prescott told ESPN after the game. "A record like that that's this team, that's this offense.

"All the different guys that caught passes or the guys that protected, everybody played a part in it. I'm just the beneficiary of it.

"But to know where I was 12 months ago and to be where we are now, headed to the playoffs, I'm very excited."

The Cowboys win means they must wait on Sunday's results to learn their playoffs fate but they can be as high as the second seed in the NFC after finishing with a 12-5 record.

Among Dallas' potential playoffs match-ups is the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals who defeated the Cowboys last weekend 25-22.

"It doesn’t matter," Prescott said when asked if he wanted to face the Cardinals again to get revenge.

"Line them up. To get to where we wanna go, you've got to beat the best. Whoever it is, wherever it is, we're ready for this run."

The Cowboys piled on seven touchdowns against the Eagles, with five different scorers meaning they set a new NFL record for most players (22) to score TDs in a single season.

"We got some momentum going," Prescott said. "We were able to score some touchdowns on offense. We had some success running the ball and throwing the ball.

"More importantly the momentum, the rhythm and fun. The camaraderie we have, we just played together and wanted to finish the season off the right way. I think we did that in all facets of the game."

Dak Prescott threw a career-high five touchdown passes and broke a franchise-record single-season record as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 51-26 on Saturday.

Prescott completed 21 of 27 passes for 295 yards, claiming the Cowboys' record for most single-season touchdown passes, going past Tony Romo's mark of 36.

The win improves means the Cowboys finish the regular season with a 12-5 record but will need to wait on Sunday's result to learn their NFC seeding which could be as high as second and as low as fourth.

Dallas head into the playoffs with a 5-1 run across their past six games after a two-game mid-season losing streak and go 6-0 in the NFC East.

Cedric Wilson (119 yards for five receptions) and Dalton Schultz both scored two TDs, while Corey Clement, Ito Smith and JaQuan Hardy also got on the scoresheet.

Upon Hardy's 22-yard rushing touchdown, the Cowboys broke the record for most players (22) to score a TD in a single season.

The Eagles, who rested numerous key players, are playoffs bound despite a 9-8 record. Eagles QB Gardner Minshew, who stepped in for Jalen Hurts due to an ankle injury, threw 19 of 33 passes for 186 yards and two TDs with one interception.

The Dallas Cowboys are fearing the worst with wide receiver Michael Gallup sustaining a suspected torn ACL in his left knee in Sunday's 25-22 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Gallup landed awkwardly when he caught a touchdown in the second quarter of the defeat, before limping off the field and leaving for the locker room on crutches.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones confirmed Gallup will undergo an MRI on Monday to confirm the severity of the injury but teammate Dak Prescott and head coach Mike McCarthy feared the worst.

"It was tough, very tough," Prescott said at the post-game news conference. "Coming in at half-time and going to see him, just unfortunate. A guy that I love. Can't get a better teammate than MG. Sick about it."

McCarthy added: "Feel terrible for Michael. Obviously made a huge play, but you could see just the way he came down."

Gallup has had 35 receptions for 445 yards and two touchdowns this season for the playoff-bound Cowboys.

The Arizona Cardinals continued their excellent road form as they edged the Dallas Cowboys 25-22 in a potential-playoff preview with Kyler Murray leading the way on Sunday.

The Cardinals improved their season record to 11-5 and their road record to 8-1, snapping a three-game skid, with Texas-born Murray throwing two touchdowns as he completed 26 of 38 attempts for 263 yards.

The Cowboys had trailed 22-7 at the final charge but stormed back into contention as Dak Prescott threw three TD passes for the game but Murray expertly managed the clock late.

Murray found Antoine Wesley for two TDs including a spectacular catch in the third quarter, while Jonathan Ward made a remarkable helmet catch on a fake punt.

The Cowboys lost Michael Gallup to injury upon his second-quarter receiving touchdown and did not return, not helping their cause.

Prescott, who completed 24 of 38 passes for 226 yards along with 20 rushing yards, found Cedrick Wilson and Amari Cooper for final-quarter TDs to tighten the game but he also had a costly fumble at 22-14.

Chargers snap skid as Williams scores 101-yard return

The Los Angeles Chargers snapped a two-game skid with a 34-13 victory over the Denver Broncos to boost their Wild Card hopes as they improve to a 9-7 record.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw 22 of 31 passes for 237 yards with two touchdowns, breaking the franchise record for single-season touchdown passes at 35.

Andre Williams scored a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown in the fourth quarter, while Austin Ekeler returned to LA's line-up and was important, with 17 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown, along with three receptions for 54 yards.

 

Lance leads 49ers to key win in Wild Card race

Trey Lance stepped in for the injured Jimmy Garoppolo and provided two touchdown passes as the San Francisco 49ers won 23-7 over the Houston Texans.

Lance completed 16 of 23 passes for 249 yards with the two TDs and an interception to help the 49ers improve to 9-7 in the NFC Wild Card pursuit.

Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell scored the touchdowns as the 49ers scored 20 second-half points to secure the win.

Daron Payne described his sideline bust-up with team-mate Jonathan Allen during the Washington Football Team's 56-14 thrashing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys as a "little brotherly disagreement".

The two defensive tackles were sat together on the bench as a 75-yard drive resulted in the Cowboys' third touchdown in a row in the second quarter, sparking a heated conversation between the pair.

Television cameras showed Payne jabbing his finger towards the side of Allen's head before the latter responded by swatting his team-mate's hand away and aiming a punch at his face.

"Emotions are high, things happen," Allen said after the loss when asked about the confrontation. "I don't think it takes a rocket scientist if you look at how that game went."

The players were separated by fellow Washington players and coaches before the duo ended the game on the field together. 

"Just a little brotherly disagreement; maybe the wrong place, wrong time, but it happened," Payne added on the altercation.

"You got brothers? You guys fight, right? It's all good."

Washington are on a three-game losing run to fall to a 6-9 record for the season, with their frailties in defense on Sunday seemingly the catalyst for the fracas between Allen and Payne, who have played together for six years across spells in Alabama and with their current franchise.

Washington coach Ron Rivera said he was informed of the incident after the conclusion of the game but refused to divulge the conversations he held with his players, while revealing the pair would not be disciplined.

"I talked with them, and as far as I'm concerned, that's where it's going to stay," Rivera told reporters. "What my players say to me is nobody's business."

Rivera believes the fight owed to frustrations running high amid a poor run of form, with Washington also missing numerous players due to injuries and COVID-19 issues.

Allen insisted they are already prepared to put the commotion behind them.

"When something happens on the field, you never let it carry into the locker room," Allen concluded. "Things get heated, we fix them, we sit down as grown men and we move on.

"I'll take full responsibility for my actions and so will Payne."

Rivera's team will look to end on a high against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday before closing their regular season at the New York Giants on January 9.

Dak Prescott revealed the Dallas Cowboys were unaware they had already clinched the NFC title before a 56-14 rout of the Washington Football Team on Sunday.

Prescott starred by completing 28 of 39 attempted passes for 330 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions as Dallas registered 50 points for the first time since Super Bowl XXVII in the 1992 season.

The Dallas QB recorded his fourth career game with 300 yards, four passing touchdowns and no interceptions, which is the most by any player in franchise history, going past Tony Romo (three). 

Dallas' 56-point haul was the third most in a game by franchise records and the most in a regular-season fixture since 1980 as Mike McCarthy's side scored more than 40 points for the fourth time this season.

The Las Vegas Raiders' victory over the Denver Broncos had already secured Prescott's third divisional title in six seasons as the Cowboys' starting quarterback, but the 28-year-old claimed he was unaware of the triumph before the game.

"I don't know if many people knew that we clinched before the game," Prescott said. "I didn't. That's kind of what my message was talking to the guys in the circle up right there [before the game], going out winning this division. 

"I don't know if we're in the world or business of trying to send messages more than we're just trying to get better, day in and day out, game after game and make sure that we're playing our best ball and peaking at the right time heading into this tournament."

Asked whether Dallas had arrested a slump after concerns over their offensive abilities on Prescott's return from a calf strain, he responded: "You tell me. I never said we were in a slump. Those were your words. 

"So I think it would be hard for you to say that now, but, yeah, tonight was a great performance."

Dallas scored on offense, defense and special teams for the first time since 2012 as they became the first NFL outfit to do so this season, much to the delight of defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence who hailed an almost perfect showing.

"I feel like we showed ourselves that we can play a complete game but we still have a lot that we can build on," Lawrence said.

"Being able to go out there and dominate on all three phases of the game, shoot, we just got to keep building on that and get better from it."

The Cowboys extended to a four-game winning streak, though McCarthy's team need to win their final two games and require the Green Bay Packers to lose at least once to confirm home advantage for the playoffs.

The NFC East champions next face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday before closing the regular season at the Philadelphia Eagles on January 9.

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys blew away the Washington Football Team with six first-half touchdowns as they recorded a comprehensive 56-14 win on Sunday.

Prescott completed 28 of 39 passes for 330 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, as the Cowboys reached 50 points for the first time since Super Bowl XXVII in 1993.

The Dallas QB recorded his fourth career game with 300 yards, four passing touchdowns and no interceptions, which is the most by any player in franchise history, going past Tony Romo (three). Prescott remarkably passed for 320 yards by half-time.

The Cowboys also became the first team this season to score in all three facets of the game as they dismantled Washington.

Ezekiel Elliott scored two touchdowns in the first half as the Cowboys opened up a 42-7 half-time lead. Elliott had nine carries for 37 yards and one rushing TD, along with one receiving touchdown.

Dallas had good contributions from receivers Amari Cooper (seven receptions for 85 yards and one TD), Dalton Schultz (eight receptions for 82 yards and one TD) and Malik Turner (three receptions for 82 yards and one TD).

Demarcus Lawrence also scored a TD after intercepting Washington QB's Taylor Heinicke's first-quarter pass with Chauncey Golston cleaning up in the end zone for a touchdown after Corey Clement blocked a punt.

The Cowboys, who have clinched the NFC East division earlier in the day after the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Denver Broncos 17-13, improve to 11-4 while Washington are 6-9.

 

Burrow blows against Lamar-less Ravens

Joe Burrow was in record-breaking form with the fourth most passing yards in a game in NFL history to lead the Cincinnati Bengals won 41-21 over the Baltimore Ravens, who were without Lamar Jackson.

Burrow completed 37 of 46 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, which was a new franchise record for passing yards as the Bengals claimed a major AFC North win to improve to 9-6 ahead of the 8-7 Ravens on a four-game skid.

The Bengals quarterback also becomes the fourth player in NFL history to have 500 pass yards, four pass touchdowns and zero interceptions in a game, joining Derek Carr, Ben Roethlisberger and Y.A. Tittle.

Wide receivers Tee Higgins (12 receptions for 194 yards and two touchdowns) and Ja'Marr Chase (seven receptions for 125 yards) were excellent against the Ravens whose stand-in QB Josh Johnson had two TD passes.

 

Chiefs clinch AFC West yet again

The Kansas City Chiefs became the first team to ever clinch the AFC West title for six straight seasons after a 36-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw 23 of 30 passes for 258 yards with three TD passes, while Steelers veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger struggled with 23 of 35 passes for 159 yards with one TD and one interception.

Wide receiver Byron Pringle had six receptions for 75 yards with two touchdowns as the Chiefs improved to an unassailable 11-4 record in the AFC West, ahead of the Los Angeles Chargers (8-4) who lost 41-29 to the Houston Texans earlier on Sunday.

The Indianapolis Colts have dominated selection for the Pro Bowl with seven players named for the game due to be played on 6 February in Las Vegas for the first time.

Colts' MVP contender running back Jonathan Taylor was among five players confirmed earlier this week but he was joined by six other team-mates as the full NFC and AFC rosters were revealed on Wednesday.

Indianapolis also had center Ryan Kelly, guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, linebacker Darius Leonard, cornerback Kenny Moore II and special teams long snapper Luke Rhodes all selected, with the Colts enjoying a run of five wins in six games to sit second in the AFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had already been named earlier this week for a record 15th Pro Bowl, with Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray and Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers joining him as NFC QBs.

The selected AFC quarterbacks were Los Angeles Chargers' Justin Herbert, Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson and Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs and Chargers had six players selected in total, while the Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Bucs all had five representatives.

Four rookies were selected in Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, Chargers offensive tackle Rashawn Slater and Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons.

The NFC and AFC rosters are determined by a vote of the fans, players and coaches.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense showed up in bravura fashion to pave the way for a 19-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field.

Despite the offense struggling, Pittsburgh forced four turnovers against a Titans side who continue to lead the AFC South but slip to 9-5 with this setback.

Linebacker T.J. Watt had 1.5 sacks to reach 17.5 for the season, establishing a new Steelers record as the home team improved to 7-6-1, getting the better of a side that blanked the Jaguars 20-0 last week.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin hailed the effort from his team to overcome their shortcomings and capitalise on their strengths, with Chris Boswell kicking four field goals and Ben Roethlisberger snatching a rare touchdown.

Roethlisberger (16-of-25 for 148 yards) also went fifth on the all-time NFL passing yards list in this game, jumping ahead of Philip Rivers with a three-yard pass to Najee Harris and boosting his career total to 63,562 yards by the end.

Tomlin said: "It's an exciting victory for us, a very necessary one. They won the battle of field position, their special teams were better than ours, but in spite of all those things I thought the guys continued to fight.

"The turnovers levelled the playing field in the second half. That was the catalyst for us to go ahead and secure victory. I like the way the guys collectively smiled in the face of adversity.

"We'll be thankful for this win. That's a really good football team we played and were able to beat today. Hopefully there's some growth associated with conquering challenges like that, and we are going to need that as we go on the road next week."

The Steelers tackle the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs on December 26, while the Titans are back in action against the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

Lions chew up Cardinals

Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes and kept the Arizona Cardinals waiting to nail down a playoff place as the Detroit Lions sprang a huge shock with their 30-12 win.

With just one win, Detroit headed into the game against the Cardinals, who were 10-3 for the season, as heavy underdogs, despite Arizona losing last week to the Los Angeles Rams.

Goff found Amon-Ra St Brown and Josh Reynolds for touchdowns in the first half as the Lions surge to a 17-0 lead at halfway – at that point their biggest advantage at any stage of any game all season and the Cardinals' biggest half-time deficit for three years.

The lead was even wider come the end of the game, with Goff finding Jason Cabinda for another touchdown, meaning Arizona's once-firm grip on first place in the NFC West is now far from that, as the Rams (9-4) lurk.

The NFL said the result marked only the third time since 1970 that a team with the worst record in the NFL had beaten a team with the best or joint-best record, taking into account only games when the sides had already played at least eight times in the season.

It was also the third-largest win all-time by a team with nine-plus fewer wins than an opponent, per Stats Perform.

Cowboys almost there

The Dallas Cowboys moved to the brink of a first playoff appearance since 2018 thanks to a 21-6 win over the New York Giants, improving to 10-4 as they continue to lead the NFC East.

Behind the arm of Dak Prescott (28-of-37 for 217 yards and one touchdown), the Cowboys had just enough to avoid any undue worries, with the scoring all wrapped up by the end of the third quarter.

While Prescott was far from perfect, he was streets ahead of Giants starting QB Mike Glennon (13-of-24 for 99 yards) who was picked off three times by the Cowboys. Trevon Diggs had the third of those interceptions to reach 10 for the season. Glennon was eventually benched to allow Jake Fromm (6-of-12 for 82 yards) a chance to impress.

Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016 but has now gone 9-0 in subsequent starts against New York.

Dallas Cowboys star Dak Prescott said he is healthy but admitted "I'm not playing my best ball" amid criticism regarding his form.

Prescott has thrown 24 touchdowns this season, though the Dallas quarterback has tallied 10 interceptions in 12 appearances – the most since 2019.

Since returning from a calf strain, Prescott has eight touchdown passes and six interceptions in six games.

Prescott addressed the criticism ahead of Sunday's NFL clash with the New York Giants, telling reporters: "I'm fully healthy, 100 per cent healthy. Thank you, though."

Prescott added: "I do realise I'm not playing my best ball, haven't been playing it, have made some poor decisions, you could say.

"That's kind of part of it. I wouldn't say it's slump material, but I'm definitely not up to my standards or expectations, and when you play at a high level, that's what you create. So I'm glad people have the same expectations for my game as I do for myself."

Prescott lost both of his starts against the Giants as a rookie in 2016, but he is 8-0 in his starts against them since then.

According to Stats Perform, Prescott is the first QB to win eight or more consecutive starts against the Giants since Ron Jaworksi won nine in a row from 1977 to 1981.

"I've been doubted my whole life, said I can't do this or can't do that, so in a sense I'm kind of glad it's actually come back," Prescott said.

"I'm glad that's the way people feel and there's a lot of that being said right now."

The Cowboys' 44-20 home win over the Giants in Week 5 was their largest margin of victory against the New York franchise since 1998, when they won 31-7 at Giants Stadium in Week 3.

Dallas had 515 net yards in that Week 5 win, their second-highest yardage total ever in a game against the Giants.

The Cowboys (9-4) have two players with 600 or more rushing yards this season – Ezekiel Elliott (810) and Tony Pollard (602). The Denver Broncos are the only other NFL team with two such players this season (Javonte Williams 743, Melvin Gordon 716).

"I think it's the right time for us to turn it on," Prescott said. "I had that talk with the skill position players in the signal-caller's meeting is we'd much rather be going through what you're through this time that we did than two weeks from now.

"Now that we've addressed it, we've held ourselves accountable for it, we can move forward and peak at the right time heading into the playoffs."

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