Cowboys Rookie Sensations Doom Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys showed the Washington Redskins why they have won 10 games in a row. The Cowboys scored four touchdowns on four red zone possessions. If the game was a car race the Redskins were all over the track while the Cowboys were cruising making no blatant errors. The Cowboys efficiency helped them beat the Redskins 31-26 on Thanksgiving.
The Cowboys first drive of the game was a bad omen for the Redskins defense. The Cowboys drive: 15, 4, 20, 12, 13, 7, and 4 yards. The four-yard gain was a touchdown run by rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliott who is the NFL’s leading rusher.
The Redskins had to settle for a field goal attempt on their first drive of the game. Washington right tackle Morgan Moses came onto the field late on the field goal attempt forcing head coach Jay Gruden to call a timeout effectively icing his own kicker. It came as no surprise that Dustin Hopkins missed the field goal attempt.
On the Redskins next possession, they drove all the way to the Cowboys 5 yard line. On 1st and goal, Washington lined up in the wildcat formation and lost one yard on the run due to a missed block. After two straight incompletions, the Redskins settled for a field goal.
Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho dropped an easy interception off of a deflection midway through the second quarter. The drop allowed the Cowboys to kick a field goal and extend their lead to 10-3.
The sun beamed into quarterback Kirk Cousin’s eyes which hindered Washington’s following possession. Hopkins came onto the field for a field goal and was barely able to see the field goal posts. He missed the 55-yard field goal getting plenty of leg on the kick but hitting it just right.
The Redskins continued to struggle at the end of the first half. Dallas got another touchdown to give them a 17-3 lead. Washington came right back and drove to Dallas’ 2-yard line before settling for another field goal. The Redskins went into halftime down 17-6 disappointed due to a lot of missed opportunities.
It proved too big a deficit to overcome. Each team punted on their opening possession of the second half. After that, each team was unstoppable on offense. The Redskins scored three straight touchdowns. The problem was that the Cowboys scored two touchdowns, which was enough to close out the game.
The Cowboys played well, but the Redskins will lament a number of mistakes and missed opportunities. The Redskins had the ball inside the Cowboy’s 6-yard line twice in the first half and came away with two field goals. Against a team as good as the Cowboys the Redskins must come away with touchdowns inside the red zone.
The Redskins defense struggled to contain Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott allowing him to get outside the pocket continually throughout the game. Poor containment allowed Prescott to score a rushing touchdown in the second half. Washington gave up 163 yards rushing and allowed Prescott too much time in the pocket only sacking him once. Prescott and Elliott had their way against the Redskins.
Washington rookie cornerback Kendall Fuller was exposed through the game. He has a bright future in the nation’s capital, but he has struggled in recent weeks.
The Redskins beat the Cowboys in just about every statistical category except for red zone efficiency. The Cowboys were 4-4 in the red zone, while the Redskins were 2-5.
Despite the loss, the Redskins must put this loss in perspective. They lost a close game to arguably the best team in the NFL that has won 10 games in a row. The Cowboys only loss this year was a 20-19 loss in week one to the Giants. Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger both lost to the Cowboys. Team after team has come up against the Cowboys and come up short.
There are a number of positives to take away from the game.
The Redskins offensive line held well despite missing Pro Bowl left tackle, Trent Williams. Three offensive linemen played through injuries, but it did not have an adverse affect on the offense. Cousins was not sacked despite attempting over 50 passes in the game.
Redskins tight end Jordan Reed was questioned for his lack of toughness early in his career. Those doubters have been silenced after his performance against the Cowboys. He suffered an AC joint separation but came back into the game. Reed finished with 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 146 catches since 2015, which is the most by any tight end in that span.
Cousins had another solid game. He finished the game 41-53 for 449 yards and three touchdowns. Former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, who commentated the game on Fox, is the only quarterback to throw for more yards on Thanksgiving than Cousins (455 yards in 1998).
Cousins has not thrown an interception since the Redskins came off their bye week. The former Michigan State Spartan set a record against the Cowboys. He is the first quarterback in Redskins history to throw for more than 400 yards twice in his career.
The Redskins played three games in 11 days finishing that stretch with a 2-1 record. Playing that many games in such a short span takes a lot out of the players both physically and mentally. Playing on Sunday night and then having to travel to Dallas for a Thursday game certainly did not help things.
Gruden will give his players three days off before his team prepares to face the Cardinals on December 4th.