The Cowboys learned a little more than one hour before kickoff that they had been crowned the NFC East champion.

The team then took the field and showed they have loftier goals in mind.

What took place against Washington at AT&T Stadium Sunday night wasn’t about another division title, the 25th in the franchise’s rich history. It was a 56-14 declaration of dominance.

It was a warning to the other teams in the conference that will join the Cowboys in the postseason that this group is coming together at the right time. It was a reminder to everyone in a Dallas uniform what this team can become.

“I said we were going to peak, and I think we’re peaking at the right moment,” rookie sensation Micah Parsons said.

The Cowboys, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay are all tied at 11-4, one game behind Green Bay in the conference standings. But Dallas holds onto the No. 2 seed based on a better conference record than the Bucs and Rams. It retains that edge as long as it avoids a two-way tie with Tampa Bay, the only team from the NFC to beat the Cowboys this season.

A Las Vegas win over Denver late Sunday afternoon handed Dallas the division title based on a complicated and convoluted strength of victory tiebreaker. Head coach Mike McCarthy was aware of that fact before the Cowboys game kicked off but chose not to discuss it with his team.

“That, to me, was irrelevant," McCarthy said.

The relevance of this game was to stay in the hunt for the best seed possible. The relevance was about getting a misfiring offense back on track.

While Washington brought its own bench to the game, the Cowboys brought a can of whup…

Well, no need to be obvious. Some things are better left to the imagination. Let’s just say that complementary football that McCarthy constantly preaches came together with a vengeance.

“I’ve been the No. 1 offense,” McCarthy said. “That doesn’t guarantee you a championship. ... You want to see a team with more balance, that is more complementary. You want to have the ability to win in all three phases. That’s what we want to be. We want to be a complementary football team.

“This ain’t about statistics."

An offense that found the end zone just four times in the first three weeks of December scored six times before this game was done. The defense scored a touchdown. The special teams came up with a blocked a punt to score a touchdown.

The list of those who scored for Dallas is as diverse as it is comical. Once you get past the usual suspects and positions ... running back, receiver and tight end ... you have touchdowns by defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence on a 40-yard interception return, left tackle Terence Steele on a 1-yard reception and backup defensive end Chanucey Golston on a blocked punt recovery.

Lawrence became the 17th player to score for Dallas this season to set a franchise record.

Steele made it 18.

Golston made it 19.

Do I hear 20? Maybe next week. Or the week after.

“That’s awesome," quarterback Dak Prescott said. “That’s a credit to this team, a credit to everybody taking pride in their role.

“This is a special group that we have."

A team that had gone 31 days since playing its last game at home made up for lost time. The 42-point final margin ranks among the seven most decisive victories in franchise history. The 42-point first half equals the highest-scoring half in Dallas history, going back to what the Cowboys did to Philadelphia in the first half on Oct. 19, 1969.

Dallas was so dominant that Cooper Rush took over for Prescott late in the third quarter. Prescott threw for eight yards in the second half, Ezekiel Elliott ran for seven yards and the trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup didn’t catch a pass.

“I think more so for ourselves, for our team morale, the fun we had on the sidelines, you can’t match that," Elliott said. “Call it whatever you want.

“Put an exclamation point on it."

Heading into Sunday’s game, McCarthy was asked how he would handle his team once it did clinch. He rested players late in a 15-1 season in Green Bay and lost in the playoffs. He played his key players in the final game of another season with the Packers and lost there, too.

“Every year is different," McCarthy said. “The landscape of each team that you coach is different.

“So, we’ll answer those questions week to week, or most importantly, when we get there.”

The Cowboys are there now. They will go all out in next week’s game against Arizona and assess where they stand after that one to determine what approach to take in the regular season finale in Philadelphia.

But that’s a decision for another day.

“I thought tonight was outstanding,” McCarthy said moments after his players and coaches were presented with T-shirts and caps proclaiming them division champs. “I just think we’re in tune with the momentum and confidence you need to build in December.

“I thought the guys hit the nail on the head."

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