7:52 PM ET

LANDOVER, Md. — Early last week, Washington Redskins defensive tackle Daron Payne sat at his locker and discussed what must be done Sunday. For Payne, drafted to play in games like Sunday’s against the Dallas Cowboys, it was simple. There was one guy on Dallas’ side they must control: Running back Ezekiel Elliott.

“Dominate up front and stop the run,” Payne said, “and make them one-dimensional.”

Making them one-dimensional led to plays like Ryan Kerrigan stripping Dak Prescott deep in Dallas territory. Preston Smith picked up the fumble at the 1-yard line and stepped into the end zone for a touchdown. The Redskins still needed some late good fortune, as a last-second 52-yard field goal attempt that would have forced overtime bounced off the left upright.

But the defensive effort is a big reason why Washington is now 4-2 and leading the NFC East by a game-and-a-half after Sunday’s 20-17 win over the Cowboys. Both Dallas and Philadelphia are 3-4.

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

While running back Adrian Peterson controlled the game for Washington’s offense, topping 90 yards for a fourth time this season — all wins. Peterson rushed for 99 yards on 24 carries. He’s now

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