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Commanders sticking with Howell at quarterback vs. Cowboys

Sam Howell Washington Commanders Sam Howell - The Canadian Press

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys' path to the NFC East title goes through Sam Howell.

Ron Rivera announced the Washington Commanders are sticking with Howell at quarterback for their season finale Sunday against Dallas.

The decision comes with veteran backup Jacoby Brissett still nursing a sore hamstring and means Howell will be the first Washington QB to start every game of a season since Kirk Cousins in 2017.

“Obviously been a lot of ups and downs this season and hasn’t gone the way we want it to go, but (this is) a great opportunity against a really good opponent in our place on Sunday, so we’re excited for it,” Howell said Wednesday.

Howell leads the NFL with 19 interceptions and has been sacked a league-high 61 times. He was pulled from two recent games and benched last week before Brissett's injury pressed Howell into starting duty in a loss to San Francisco, in which he threw two more picks.

“He’s a very solid young man who’s really a very mentally tough guy, and I thought he handled it nicely,” Rivera said. "He did some really good things. I thought he managed a couple of the drives very well, very nicely. Want to see him get an opportunity to finish it out.”

Howell is facing the Cowboys for a third time in his brief career after making his NFL debut against them in Week 18 last season. He won that game, which ultimately was meaningless to Dallas because Philadelphia was rolling to a victory that clinched the division.

This time, the Cowboys (11-5) control their chances of wrapping up the NFC East. They're 13 1/2-point favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook against the Commanders, who have lost seven in a row to fall to 4-12.

A 45-10 loss at Dallas on Thanksgiving was part of that slide and realistically the end of Washington's playoff hopes after a 2-0 start. Howell hopes he and the Commanders can run the ball effectively and stay balanced in order to pull off what would be a significant upset.

“They do a good job on defense, have a really good front, so we definitely have our hands full,” he said. "But we’ll have a good plan, and we just got to go out there and execute.”