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Upon Further Review: Anthony Hitchens' solid day

The Dallas Cowboys clinched the NFC East with a 42-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at AT&T Stadium. Here is our weekly Upon Further Review.

1. Anthony Hitchens started at weakside linebacker on Sunday and produced one of his better games of the season. He finished with seven solo tackles, an interception (the first of his career), and two pass-breakups. But it's what Hitchens did in the early parts of the game that set the stage for his performance. He had three tackles on the first six plays of the game. Hitchens had better statistics in previous games, such as the 12-tackle effort on Thanksgiving Day against Philadelphia and 13 against St. Louis on Sept. 21. The Cowboys are looking for consistency from their defensive players, and despite the struggles from several units, such as the line and secondary, the linebackers have played solid all season. Rolando McClain set the tone at middle linebacker early in the season, but a knee injury has slowed his progress of late. Enter Hitchens who is very active in the base defense and played well in following the ball carriers from the backside on Sunday.

2. When DeMarco Murray sat with 69 seconds to play in the third quarter, it was an opportunity for Joseph Randle to take over the Cowboys' running game. Randle lost a fumble, had two negative carries and finished with 21 second-half yards. Overall, Randle rushed for 37 yards on 13 carries against the Colts. Randle runs hard, displays good vision and isn't afraid to get the dirty yards. Murray is the best back on the roster, however, Randle is faster than Murray. Lance Dunbar, the No. 3 running back, is the fastest back on the squad. If Murray didn't play Sunday because of his broken hand, I don't believe there would have been a major drop-off. Sure, Randle isn't Murray, an MVP candidate, but Randle is quite capable of picking up the blitz protections, catching passes out of the backfield (one catch for seven yards on Sunday) and getting the offense in gear through the run game. Randle's fumble was more about him not getting down than carrying the ball recklessly. With several defenders around him, he should give up, he did gain 13 yards on the play.

3. The Cowboys in a sense have something to play for Sunday when they take on the Washington Redskins. The Cowboys are the No. 3 seed and would host the Green Bay Packers if the postseason started today. That's today. But Dallas can move to the No. 2 seed and get a first-round bye, something that hasn't happened since 2007. Dallas needs to beat Washington and Green Bay to knock off Detroit. However, San Francisco and St. Louis also have to win games to allow the Cowboys to move up. The 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals, and it's quite possible that a San Francisco victory could happen. The Rams face the Seattle Seahawks, and it will be interesting to see how that game plays out. With Tony Romo (back), Murray (hand), Zack Martin (ankle) and McClain (knee) playing through these ailments, it wouldn't be a bad idea to sit them down. However, expect the Cowboys to play everybody on Sunday against Washington given the chance to move up for a No. 2 seed and gain a first-round bye.