It didn’t start out real pretty with the offense having four series that were three and outs. But the defense & special teams were the early stars of this contest. The game was a beautiful one in that the execution on both sides of the ball got better as the game went along. Early struggles offensively were a non issue as the defense kept Washington at bay, largely aided by the Redskins inability to hold onto the ball through all but a few minutes of the first half.
The defense rose to the occasion in this game and while yielding a few first downs early, they also did their part in stoning the Washington offense. Washington was the first to threaten in this game but a pass off the hands of their WR, fell gently into the hands of Jeff Heath. While unable to gain traction on offense, the punt unit got the strip and the recovery inside Redskin territory. The game became a battle for field position at best to this point. Chris Jones planted a sweet one inside the 10 and the ball bounced ever so nicely to Kavon Frazier inside the one. Frankly I thought we got a bad spot at the 1/2 half line! Washington was unable to get a first down and Dallas got the ball at their own 41. It was a run on 3rd and 5 by Dak for 14 yards that kickstarted the offense and Dak marched them downfield. He finished it off to Jason Witten on a sweet little route, over the middle.
Demarcus Lawrence on the next Washington possession pops a strip sack and the Boys are back in business. They settled for a Dan Bailey FG for a 10-0 lead in a ho hum start. Then on first down, Taco gets a sack on 1st down paving the way for a three and out. The punt by Washington cruised downfield only to be brought all the way back by Ryan Switzer and a interesting bob and weave of 83 yards. Frankly, Switz’s been looking ready to pop one and finally he hit the home run. This gave Dallas a 17-0 lead, which only lasted a few minutes as Cousins completed 8 in a row to narrow the margin to 17-7 just before the end of the half.
Ever seen an 11-man weave?
Because @Switz just zig-zagged his way to this 83-yard PUNT RETURN TD! WOW! #dallascowboys#WASvsDAL pic.twitter.com/MP25m8qKuO
— NFL (@NFL) December 1, 2017
To put things in full perspective in that first half, it was a beautiful performance by the defense & special teams units. They made several notable changes, the most obvious and perhaps risky one was inserting Chido Awuzie into the starting lineup in place of Anthony Brown. Risky, only because he’s not had much work in practices leading up to this game due to hamstring issues. He made a nice break up early on, of a pass where he just stepped in and swatted the ball down. Another play he challenged the WR to make a somewhat difficult catch at its high point and the Redskins came up empty. The other was the insertion of Kavon Frazier in place of Byron Jones. Frazier in addition to downing the punt inside the one, was coming up in run support and blasting the RB, among his six tackles. He was making a statement and the whole unit was making theirs. In nickel and dime they had Xavier Woods handling the slot. It really didn’t seem to matter who was in the secondary as everyone took turns to make plays. They were for the most part able to keep things in front of them and limit the chunk plays. Throw in the sacks, fumble recovery’s, the strip sack, interceptions and they were taking care of business. Anthony Hitchens had a strong game and was credited with 15 tackles, but a few of those blew up plays or prevented big plays from destroying our night. The special teams play was outstanding as Kyle Wilbur stripped the returner on a punt and then Switz’s run to daylight!
VINTAGE DEZ. ?#ThrowUpTheX because that's a #dallascowboys TD, courtesy of @dezbryant!#WASvsDAL pic.twitter.com/7ygNJywieO
— NFL (@NFL) December 1, 2017
The second half was all about the offensive line and the running game getting it in gear and they just took it to the Redskins, one play at a time. Alfred Morris had a very solid night, clearly his best as a Cowboy, gaining 127 yards on 27 carries. In the 2nd half, it was six to eight yards a pop, regularly, down after down or so it seemed. Dak didn’t have a big night, but it was a solid night, doing exactly what was needed, when it was needed to lead this team to victory. He threw for a measly 102 yards on just 11 completions, but two were for TD’s. First to Witten, then a beautiful ball to Dez as he broke the tie with Bullet Bob Hayes, for most receiving TD’s by a Dallas Cowboy. A real honor to pass the HOF player! He suffered a shot to his throwing hand and gutted the night out. Didn’t let it affect his passing and actually made a few throws that were dead nuts perfect. Just three plays prior to the TD to Dez, Dak hit Dez in stride, smack dab between the 8 & the other 8. Great route, great throw. But he had time to stand in there and let one rip. On this night he wasn’t forced to throw the ball 35 times nor did he face an all out cavalry coming after him. Props to La’ell Collins in particular as he sat out practices all week and then turned in one of his best games of the season. The offensive line, particularly the interior three, Cooper, Frederick & Zack were running the stretch to perfection. The replays of a few runs that went wide, featured Tyrun just blowing out anyone in his path and Morris was following his lead. For those dumping on Dez & Dak the last week or so, I hope they saw the two making plays at critical moments in the game. Dez had 5 of the 11 completions and 61 of the 102 yards. Terrance had a big first down reception against Norman. The passing game is still a concern to me as the field still appears to be operating in tight quarters. When you can run the ball this efficiently you don’t need as much from the passing game.
But it was the defenses performance that enabled the offense to not take risks and let the game come to them. What we should like out of this one was that the defense was aggressive. The line kept pressure on Cousins throughout the game. When they tried to get their running game going their running backs were often met in the hole and took shots from the linebackers or safeties. When was the last time that Dallas came up with four turnovers? I can’t completely discount the facts that Washington was badly beat up for this match up. But the way we’d played the previous three games, a fair amount of doubt existed in the minds of many on whether or not we could get back to putting up some points. Personally, I was in the Missouri Mindset, where seeing is believing. I needed to see them do it with my own two eyes.
The offense is still a concern on all the points I wrote about last week. We love watching our Boys drive for TD’s, the big runs, aerobatic receptions, etc. I enjoy the offensive stats of our guys, but its that 6th trophy I’m looking forward to. For me, its the defense that impressed and going forward that’s what matters. There’s a need to see the defense grow game by game. You can win games in the regular season with an “adequate” defense, but moving forward in the playoffs requires an opportunistic defense and a stout one. That’s what we saw in this game! That gives us hope this year and beyond with as many young players that make up that side of the ball. This years a bit of a long shot with some of the football they’ve played, but we’re in it till we’re not. They gave themselves hope by putting out a great effort defensively after getting torched in the 2nd half the prior three weeks. We all want to win another SB, but the key to actually doing it is having a defense that can get it done, when the game is on the line. Rome wasn’t built in a day and with a couple of more pieces we just might get the chance to see them hold a trophy in the future!
Agree or disagree? What did you like, what didn’t you like in this game?
Next up, the brouhaha over Eli being replaced in NY ……. For me, one of the most over rated QB’s in the modern era, but one that has been “Cantonized” by the media. Be sure to come back and see my take on him.