Dallas Cowboys RT La'el Collins ejected for throwing punch in pivotal divisional victory

LANDOVER, Md. -- Dallas Cowboys right tackle La'el Collins was ejected in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 27-20 victory over the Washington Football Team for throwing a punch while trying to defend Dak Prescott.

Washington defensive end William Bradley-King pushed Prescott as the quarterback was making a throw near the sideline, and Collins let him know of his displeasure. So did running back Ezekiel Elliott, but Collins bull-rushed Bradley-King, who was a practice squad call-up, and eventually threw a punch.

"It wasn't really the late hit for me," Collins said. "I felt it was more so, I felt like he was rolling toward Dak's leg. It was uncalled for. I'm just here to protect my quarterback at all costs, and that's the bottom line."

Prescott said he appreciated it.

"I obviously respect and love the fact that my teammates are standing up for me and that's how all of us feel about one another," Prescott said. "That's not them protecting me. That's how any of us would react if any of our brothers are in that position. Yeah, thankful for those guys."

A year ago at FedEx Field, the Cowboys were criticized for not standing up for quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton was given a cheap shot by Washington linebacker Jon Bostic, who hit the quarterback as he was sliding to the ground. Bostic was thrown out of the game, but no offensive player stood up for Dalton.

After the game, Mike McCarthy said he was unaware Collins threw a punch and came to clarify his initial comments, saying he believed Collins was protecting a teammate.

"LC did exactly what you're supposed to do there," McCarthy said. "We all understand the challenges of officiating, but whatever you thought of that play all the way around, this is a game, obviously very competitive. I think the fact that that's your quarterback or whoever, I just think these games are going to be chippy. They're division games and you just want to see guys -- not only once it got going -- I thought everybody did a good job locking up and moving on. Hey, it happens in these type of games."

Collins, who did not play last year because of hip surgery, made sure that did not happen to Prescott.

But his timing hurt since left tackle Tyron Smith was already out of the game with a left ankle injury. The Cowboys were using Terence Steele at right tackle for Collins and Ty Nsekhe at left tackle for Smith.

Smith missed three games earlier this season because of a left ankle injury.

Collins is the second Cowboy to be ejected from a game in the last three games. Cornerback Kelvin Joseph was tossed from the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Las Vegas Raiders after a dustup following a punt.

"The physicality of your team, the discipline of it all, I mean you're always trying to get that with your players and your team to play on the edge and disciplined enough to be within the rules," McCarthy said. "That's what this game is about."