Did the Cowboys make us sweat this one out or what? Don’t pay attention to the final score, it doesn’t tell the story of this game. We became aware of how badly their offensive line was banged up, advantage Dallas. Their running game already wasn’t one of the better one’s in the league, advantage Cowboys. Dallas has Zeke, enough said! But there are reasons the game is played and this one was too close for comfort.
First offensive play for the Cowboys, found Zeke losing the handle and gifting three points to the Redskins. Not a good start to this NFC East battle in Washington. It was a key stop by the defense to hold them to just three points. Following the kickoff, Dallas had about their easiest drive of the day, maybe the season. It took them just five plays to cover 75 yards as Dak found Witten, Williams and Swaim for nice chunk plays. For a moment, it returned normalcy and sanity to the Cowboys faithful.
But our Cowboys have a way of sucking the air out of us. Washington returned the favor by using seven plays to notch a TD of their own. The next Dallas possession ended with a missed FG by new kicker, Mike Nugent. How many fans wanted to cut him on the spot? That left a short field and Washington did enough to get another FG and they took a 13-7 lead. Dallas responded with a thud, on first down a holding call on La’ell, leading to a three and out. Again the fans were not breathing easy, I know I wasn’t. The next possession changed the whole game. First Ash crushed a running play for a three yard loss, though Cousins picked up 26 yards for a 1st down. However on their next third down play, David Irving gets a sack and on fourth down, Washington lined up for a FG. Tyrone Crawford blocks the kick. Orlando Scandrick picked it up, reversed field and returned it to the Washington two yard line. It was great watching the entourage Scandrick had going down the sideline. Naturally Zeke punched it in a minute later.
This block, return and TD completely changed the dynamic of the game. They had the chance to put us in a fairly deep hole at 16-7, instead the Boys flipped the game in our favor, 14-13. That was a true game changer, a 10 point swing. Clearly the play of the game! To this point we’d been keeping them in the game, now that changed in a flash.
? BLOCKED FIELD GOAL! ?
Brought to you by, @TCrawford98! ???#DALvsWAS #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/FzKh6oD28t
— NFL Canada (@NFLCanada) October 29, 2017
What was obvious through this game was that Washington had no real running game. Our Friday story about this game called for us to stop their running game and get ours rolling. I keep saying its a common prescription, but I’m sorry, it just works. No rocket science degree here, but its that football 101. When we saw the forecast of rain for this one, it had to be that recipe.
What was obvious through this game was that Washington had no real running game. Our Friday story about this game called for us to stop their running game and get ours rolling. I keep saying its a common prescription, but I’m sorry, it just works. No rocket science degree here, but its that football 101. When we saw the forecast of rain for this one, it had to be that recipe. I wrote that we had to run the ball between Zeke & Morris, 35 times. Zeke had 33 carries with Alfred getting 3 and Dak added 3 of his own. On a day when it rained from start to finish this game was going to come down to who could run the ball and who would have the fewest turnovers. Zeke finished with 33 carries, 150 yards and 2 TD’s. On the first Washington possession of the second half, we got a strip sack from Demarcus Lawrence. Yes, that officially gives him a double digit sack total in just seven games. But after some questionable play calling Dallas settled for a FG and a 17-13 lead. What bothered me was with the heavy rain, just keep pounding the ball at them. Keep it simple, move the chains & repeat. The Redskins kept bringing guys wide and it did enable Zeke to stack up nice chunks of yardage and threaten a few opportunities to go for 20 plus. Much like the 26 yard run called back.
I wrote that their running game was nothing to fear and it wasn’t. All they had was that jet sweep that produced some positive yardage. They had two runs totaling 26 yards, while the other 13 attempts produced just 23 yards. That forced Cousins to throw and Dallas to apply pressure. Once Dallas was able to virtually stop their running game and take the lead it unleashed the one group that has flourished on defense, the front four. David Irving had two sacks and then two strip sacks by Crawford & Lawrence. They become part of the recipe, stop the run, then let them pin their ears back and go after the QB.
What was perplexing and a concern was the number of holding penalties against the offense. One of them by Tyrun called back a beautiful 26 yard run to pay dirt by Zeke. Our guy Zeke, lost over 30 yards due to penalties and it does hurt taking points off the board. That penalty on Tyrun wasn’t a good call, nor was the PI call on Anthony Brown inside the last 5 minutes. These are things that need to be cleaned up. Its a special game when Dallas gets 4 turnovers, culminating with the pick 6 by Byron Jones with about 30 seconds to go in the contest. The pass was blocked by David Irving. This was huge, as Washington had the ball down 7 points with less than a minute remaining. This wasn’t Aaron Rodgers, but the game could be tied up with a TD by Washington.
We have to acknowledge the production from Irving since his return. He’s now had 5 sacks by my count in the three games since his return. His tipped pass that bounced nice and high for Byron to pull it in and work his way to the end zone. We also have to hand out the props to the special teams work. First the blocked FG and then a helmet on the ball by Keith Smith on a kick off. It simply iced the game and let us finally breathe.
Here are the last few sentences of Friday’s story and how I saw the game playing out:
“I like the Cowboys offense, which is averaging 34.5 points over their last four games. I fully expect this to go down to the last four minutes. However if this turns into a sloppy, turnover filled game it could have a wide spread at the end in point differential. Yet, if its fairly even in turnovers, then don’t be surprised with a 31-30 victory.”
Well they put up 33 points, yet it was special teams & the defense that their take away led to at least 17 on the day. The game did come down to the last four minutes. The final turnover, the pick 6 gave the point differential a final spread of 14 points. Overall not a bad prognostication of the way the game might go.
Any win on the road in the NFL is big. Any win against an NFC opponent is terrific. Let’s enjoy this one and get ready for the next game, at home against Kansas City. A home game, YIKES!
PICK-6! #DallasCowboys pic.twitter.com/PBTwr8EFor
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2017