The Washington Redskins outlasted the Dallas Cowboys with a 20-17 victory on Sunday.
However, the game should never have been that close. The Redskins led the game from start to finish on a cold and windy day in the Nation’s Capital. But they nearly allowed a 10 point lead to disappear in the fourth quarter. It took a snap infraction, and a missed 52-yard field goal, for the Redskins to avoid overtime.
With 4:55 seconds remaining in the game, the Cowboys found themselves down by 10 and at their own 26 yard line. One defensive stop by the Skins could have put the game away. Instead, the Cowboys compiled a 12-play, 76 yard drive, capped by a Dak Prescott 1-yard touchdown run. Worse yet, they did so without expending a timeout and with 1:37 left on the clock. The score was 20-17, and the Redskins would receive the ball.
Down by three, the Cowboys decided to trust their defense and kicked the ball off into the end zone. They gambled correctly. The Redskins decided to play it conservatively with two Adrian Peterson runs that net one yard.
Washington was now faced with a 3rd-and-9, one first down away from ending the game. Cowboys had one timeout.
You would think the Redskins would devise a pass play to Jordan Reed, who thrives in one-on-one match-ups. Or, at the very least, just pass the ball. Inexplicably, Alex Smith bootlegs left, gains six yards, and falls out of bounds. Clock stopped. Dallas retains its timeout. The Cowboys now have 1:09 to drive down field and tie the game.
And they almost did. Within six plays the Cowboys were well into field goal range, standing at the Redskins 28 yard line. A 47-yard field goal attempt standing in their way to pushing the game into overtime. With three second left, the Cowboys long snapper, L.P. Ladouceur re-adjusts the football and defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne shoots through the line. Flags are thrown. All parties stood there bewildered. What happened? Snap infraction. Penalty on Dallas. They move back five yards.
Then this happens:
A huge moment in the NFC East 👀
— NFL UK (@NFLUK) October 22, 2018
Brett Maher’s 52-yard field goal hits the left upright. The Redskins escape with the win.
The Defense Stands Up
Although this game will be remembered for the missed field goal attempt, a lot of credit should be given to the Redskins defense for dictating the game. Ezekiel Elliott came into the game as the league’s second leading rusher with 586 yards. He left the game frustrated, and bottled up. He only accumulated 33 yards rushing for the day.
DJ Swearinger came into the game like a “man on fire” in the first quarter. In addition to providing his usual enthusiasm, he nearly had an interception on the first drive.
Later in the quarter, he had a strip fumble on a 4th-and-1 QB sneak by Prescott. Although the team didn’t score as a result, they used the turnover to pin the Cowboys deep in their own territory.
However, Ryan Kerrigan provided the play of the day. He stripped Prescott on one of his two sacks on the day. Late in the third quarter, on a 3rd-and 14, Kerrigan was stuffed on his original bull rush on the quarterback. On his second effort, he got in, wrangled Prescott and jostled the ball free. Preston Smith was there and scooped the ball for the easy score. This put the Redskins up by 10.
All in all, the Redskins totaled 4 sacks and forced the Cowboys into two turnovers. The Cowboys only had 10 points scored late into the fourth quarter. They also held the Cowboys to 35% on third down conversions. The Defense saved the day today.
Although this win feels good in the short term, Redskins fans are concerned for the long term effectiveness of the of offense. Alex Smith failed to break the 200 yard passing plateau for the second time in two weeks. In both games he looked flustered and uncomfortable in the pocket.
On the outside, the Redskin wide-outs are still struggling to take over a game. The team has yet to have a 100-yard receiver on the season. In fact, our leading receiver against Dallas was Kapri Bibbs with four receptions. Pro Bowl Tight-End, Jordan Reed, only had two receptions on the day. He needs to be featured more.
Adrian Peterson was a highlight, totaling 99 yards rushing on the day. He was the tone-setter, and largely our most effective weapon. But how much can we depend on the 33-year old? The Redskins must look for alternate methods to lighten his workload.
The Redskins now stand at 4-2, and are first place in the NFC East. The team will now travel to East Rutherford, New Jersey to take on the New York Giants next week. It will be a 1pm kickoff, and the second divisional game of the season.