The 5th Quarter: Cowboys 31 Redskins 16
IT WAS OVER WHEN… QB Robert Griffin III threw a lob pass in the Cowboys end zone to a Dallas Cowboys DB Orlando Scandrick. The pass was intercepted, perhaps because WR Santana Moss fell down on the play, but it was a terrible end to a drive the Redskins needed to finish with a touchdown to keep the game close.
POSTGAME QUOTE… ”Special Teams was an F tonight. … We found the enemy tonight. It was us.” — FB Darrel Young
I LIKED THAT… RG3 looked healthy, rushing for 77 yards and five first downs on nine carries… The defense looked very good tonight, apart from the opening drive, when it allowed the Cowboys to go 80 yards for an early touchdown… The defense had a lot of trouble tackling early, as they have all season, but finally fixed it late in the first half. The Cowboys averaged only 2.5 yards per rushing play and 5.5 yards per passing play… CB DeAngelo Hall had a big game, allowing Dez Bryant to catch only 5 passes for 36 yards and making some nice tackles and a beautiful pass-tip in the end zone to prevent a touchdown after his safety help abandoned him… The defense gave up only 213 yards tonight — and only 48 on the ground… The Redskins rushed for 216 yards on 33 carries [6.5], which is usually enough to win an NFL game… Rookie TE Jordan Reed caught four passes on six targets for 58 yards and is clearly becoming a major factor in the passing game.
I DID NOT LIKE THAT… The special teams completely melted down tonight, giving up an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown — after a penalty — and a 90-yard kickoff return that led directly to another Cowboys touchdown… The special teams committed two penalties on the punt return — one by Jerome Murphy to give the Cowboys another crack at the play and one by Special Teams Coach Keith Burns, who ran into an official on the sidelines… The Redskins committed 12 penalties for 104 yards tonight, many of them on special teams… The kicking game even committed a penalty [by RT Tyler Polumbus] on an extra point… The offensive line was a mess tonight, with no one playing particularly well, but LG Kory Lichtensteiger playing worse than anyone… RG Chris Chester also continued to have a poor season with another stinker of a performance tonight… Playing against a lot of backups and no Demarcus Ware for most of the night, the offensive line opened very few holes for RB Alfred Morris [who gained most of his yards on just one carry] and allowed an under-manned Dallas defense to pressure RG3 throughout the night… The offense was 0-3 in the red zone tonight and road teams that kick field goals usually lose games… WR Pierre Garcon had 15 passes thrown to him tonight, but caught only six of them… RG3 completed less than half of his passes, did not throw a TD and turned the ball over twice with an interception in the Dallas end zone and a fumble at his own 2-yard line…
AND IT ALL MEANS… The Redskins are now 1-4, in third place in the division, with two losses in the NFC East and all four losses in the conference. Clearly, the NFC East will send only one team to the playoffs, the division winner. The Redskins have no chance of being that team if they cannot win division games. We saw some definite improvement from RG3 tonight as a runner, which is something the Redskins desperately need. The notion that Washington can win with Griffin as a pure pocket passer is absurd right now. Maybe years from now, when the roster is vastly improved. Right now, Washington needs the RG3 of 2012 and his legs, at least, looked much closer to that form tonight. Griffin was also erratic on some throws and, like most quarterbacks, seemed very bothered by the pass rush when his offensive line started to crumble in the second half. So the good news is that RG3 has his legs back. The bad news is that it won’t make a difference if wide receivers not named Pierre Garcon don’t start making a contribution. And RG3 won’t matter if the special teams, which is surely the NFL’s worst at this point, continues to sabotage games for the Redskins. With a bye week and two weeks to prepare, Washington’s special teams — already bad — actually got worse. The Redskins have a lot of problems right now and they have very little time to fix them before facing the 4-2 Chicago Bears, who have the league’s most opportunistic defense and a QB named Jay Cutler who is finally playing up to his vast potential.