LANDOVER, Md. -
DeMarco Murray passed Emmitt Smith with a change of direction that left a safety flat-footed.
Dez Bryant moved ahead of Terrell Owens by getting the left tiptoe down in the end zone, a touchdown that didn't count until the replay showed what a superb catch it was.
And Tony Romo? How about a 4-0 month that might help dispel the notion that the Dallas Cowboys can't be a December team?
The Cowboys prepped for the playoffs yesterday with a 44-17 win over the Redskins, with Murray and Bryant breaking a pair of prestigious franchise records along the way and the team as a whole maintaining momentum heading into its first postseason appearance since 2009.
"Right before people's eyes," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said, "we have basically torn it up in December."
That's a change of pace from recent history, when Dallas capped three consecutive season win-or-fail losses to NFC East rivals in the final weekend, yielding back-to-back-to-back 8-8 records that fueled more doubts about Romo as a big-game quarterback.
Yesterday's game didn't have the same magnitude. The result mattered only if at least one of the later games ended in a tie. Otherwise, Dallas would get a first-round bye with losses by both Arizona and Seattle - win or lose against Washington.
With the pressure off, the Cowboys (12-4) did just fine - and didn't pack it in. The Cowboys went 8-0 on the road for the first time in team history.
"I've been speaking on it the whole year, we've got to grow and mature," Dallas defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. "It's clear as day these seeds are turning into flowers, and I'm happy, man. Coach is going to continue to give us sunshine and rain, and we'll be all right."
Coach Jason Garrett deployed his full complement of available resources, opting not to give Romo's ailing back some extra rest nor to play it safe with Murray, who broke his left hand 2 weeks ago. The Cowboys scored on their first five possessions to take a 27-7 lead, throwing in a successful onside kick along the way.
Romo played nearly the entire game, completing 22 of 34 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. For the month, he completed 75 percent with 12 touchdowns and one interception, and his 114.4 season passer rating is sixth best in NFL history.
Romo has a 1-3 career record in the playoffs.
Asked what's different this time, he said: "I'm different, so I'm excited about that aspect. I'm a different player than I was - now you got to go out and do it."
Murray rushed for 100 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries, passing Smith for the team single-season mark on a 32-yard first-quarter run with a nice move in front of safety Ryan Clark. Murray ends the season with 1,845 yards, bettering Smith's 1,773 yards in 1995.
Also in the first quarter, Bryant caught scoring passes of 65 and 23 yards to give him 16 touchdown receptions on the season, breaking Owens' team record of 15 set in 2007. The 65-yarder was a screen in which Bryant juked cornerback David Amerson at the line of scrimmage and took off for the end zone.