Like many columnists, I find myself speechless after watching the Cowboys fall to the Redskins on Sunday night 13-7. Neither team deserve to win in a game that was full of mistakes and an irritating lack of offense by both teams.
The Redskins jumped out to a 3-0 lead on their first possession of the game. The Redskins shut the Cowboys down on the opening possession that saw the Boys march into Washington territory and then stall. Mat McBriar’s punt then scooted into the end zone as backup safety Danny McCray lost the handle on the ball. McNabb then led the Redskins on their only impressive drive of the game. McNabb complete passes to Moss and Cooley, was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on DT Jay Ratliff, and sprinkled in a 17-yard run of his own that set up rookie K Graham Gano for a 29-yard field goal.
The Cowboys responded with a drive of their own with Romo completing passes to Felix Jones and Miles Austin. The drive stalled in the red zone when the Boys took one of their 12 penalties on the night. K David Buehler came in and missed a 34-yard field goal and the Cowboys had nothing.
The teams exchanged possessions until the Cowboys got the ball right before halftime looking to tie the game heading into the locker room. With :04 seconds remaining in the half, Romo and the offense looked to launch a hail mary from their 36-yardline. When Romo felt pressure instead of heaving the ball down the field he flipped it to Tashard Choice who lost four yards before being stripped and having Washington’s DeAngelo Hall scamper in for the Redskin’s only touchdown.
The Cowboys entered halftime clearly frustrated by their mental mistakes and trailing 10-0. Wade Phillips was visibly angry and the rest of the Cowboys were shocked. The Redskins came out of halftime and drove the ball down to the Cowboys 5-yardline where Dallas CB Mike Jenkins broke up to goal line pass plays to Washington wideout Anthony Armstrong on back to back plays. The Redskins looked to take a 13-0 lead with another Gano field goal, but holder Josh Bidwell fumbled the snap and the Cowboys caught a break taking over possession at their own 17-yardline.
The teams exchanged possessions and the Cowboys defense forced another Redskin punt. Punter Josh Bidwell shanked a punt from his 7-yardline and the Cowboys took over at the Redskins 34. Romo led the Boys down the short field and hooked up with Miles Austin on a 4-yard touchdown, trimming the Redskins lead to 10-7. The teams stayed that way until the Redskins got another field goal from Gano with 1:56 left in the game.
Romo and the Boys drove down the field looking for the game winning touchdown and frustrated fans with the amount of time they seemed to be wasting during the no-huddle offense. With time all but out, Romo hit Austin on a 30-yard pass that took the Cowboys to the Washington 13-yardline with :12 seconds left. If Romo had thrown a better ball to Austin the game would have been over there. Austin was all by himself and was forced to stop and grab the Romo pass.
The Cowboys burned a play and then with :08 seconds left Romo hit WR Roy Williams on what looked to be the game winning touchdown only to have a penalty on the play. Right tackle Alex Barron, who was filling in for the injured Marc Colombo, continued his consistently awful play by tackling Redskin’s pass rusher Brian Orakpo while Romo scrambled out of the pocket. The game ended on the offesive penalty, and despite both teams pathetic play the Redskins escaped with a victory.
It is hard to say who deserved to win this game, both teams were dreadful. The Cowboys continue their issues from last year by continually shooting themselves in the foot. The Redskins, with the exception of Santana Moss and Chris Cooley, were just inept. All in all this was a very bad football game and both teams will look at this film with a tad bit of embarrassment. But in the end all that matters is the score and the Redskins will take the much anticipated victory over their biggest rivals.
For the Redskins WR Santana Moss looked like the Moss from 4 years ago. He had great speed and found the holes in the Cowboys zone coverage often. He also beat Terrance Newman repeatedly, something he has not done in 3 years. Chris Cooley played very well and was a good safety blanket for McNabb who did not have his best game. The best player on the field for the Redskins would have to be DeAngelo Hall. He seemed to be in every play and quieted the highly anticipated debut of Cowboys rookie receiver Dez Bryant. I would like to say the rest of the Redskins defense was good, at times maybe, but for the most part they just benefited from the Cowboys terrible play.
For the Cowboys the entire defense was lights out. They continued their streak of not allowing the Redskins to score and offensive touchdown in, what is now, 15 straight quarters. A weak spot on defense was CB Terrance Newman. Newman looked out of place and slow for most of the game. On offense there were few bright spots other than WR Miles Austin who caught 10 balls for 146 yards and 1 touchdown. The running game was serviceable and Barber, Jones and Choice all looked quick and ran hard.
The Cowboys need not look further than themselves as why they did not leave Washington with a victory. The constant penalties and mental mistakes was reminiscent of the early season struggles from a year ago. I will be very surprised if RT Alex Barron lasts through the week with the club. He was awful. The Cowboys will look to move on from this dreadful performance next week when they host the Chicago Bears at Cowboys Stadium.