It was bad, ugly really … and it could have been a whole lot worse.
The Dallas Cowboys suffered a disappointing loss to an inferior team, putting up a frightful performance in losing to the lowly Redskins, 20-17, in front of 87,055 fans and a national television audience.
But the outcome seemingly could have been an afterthought once quarterback Tony Romo gingerly walked off the field and directly into the locker room. His night looked over when with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter, he took a blow directly to his surgically repaired lower back.
Fortunately, Romo came back late in the fourth quarter and was on hand at the end, providing a collective sigh of relief from the Dallas faithful if nothing else. There would be no Willis Reed heroics on this night, given the effort of the offense for most of the game.
Dallas was unable to do what they’ve done all season, control the game and the clock. Washington held a clear advantage in time of possession, 38:12 to 28:27, turnovers again causing the Cowboys problems.
The offense also had little answer for a Redskins defense that routinely blitzed and never allowed Romo to get comfortable in the pocket. He finished with just 209 yards passing with one touchdown, connecting on 17 of his 28 attempts. In similar fashion, Dez Bryant was held largely in check, catching only three passes for just 30 yards with none coming in the second half.
Only DeMarco Murray continued his torrid pace, rushing 19 times for 141 yards, a stellar 7.4 yard per carry average. But unlike previous games, the Cowboys seemed to rely more heavily on the pass, running the ball only 25 times compared to 34 pass attempts. This marked Murray’s eighth straight game reaching the century mark, extending his NFL record for most 100-yard games to start the season.
The Cowboys finished with 390 yards of total offense, but they let a third-string quarterback and a beleaguered Redskins offense put up 409 yards. The former Texas Longhorn connected on 83.3 percent of his pass attempts (25-of-30) fro 299 yards. On the receiving end of a good chunk of that output was the speedster DeSean Jackson, who burned the Cowboys on several occasions, totaling six catches for 136 yards.
While obviously Romo’s health was top of mind, in the end he wasn’t the most seriously injured. Linebacker Justin Durant left the game midway through the fourth quarter with an arm injury that could sideline him for the season. And Ronald Leary also had to leave the game late with a groin issue.
In other words, it was a night that all would just as soon forget.
And it was bad from the get-go. Over the opening 21 minutes of game action, the Cowboys could seemingly do little right on offense. Their first four possessions ended on a punt after a 12-yard sack, a punt after an 11-yard sack, a fumble by Joseph Randle and a fumble by DeMarco Murray.
Fortunately, though, thanks to the Dallas defense, as well as a Redskins offense that was just dreadful, the Cowboys were lucky to be down only 3-0 after that disappointing start, as neither turnover led to points for the visitors.
After the first fumble, which gave Washington the ball on the Dallas 27-yard line, Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox returned the favor on the Redskins’ second play from scrimmage when he intercepted a pass in the end zone, the first of his career. And the second turnover? Washington took care of that one themselves with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and then an 8-yard sack, forced to punt the ball away.
Still, the Redskins had the lead midway through the second quarter, thanks to a Kai Forbath 44-yard field goal on Washington’s first possession of the game.
The Cowboys offense finally got rolling – and more importantly, finally held onto the ball – when they started a drive at their own 20 with 9:03 left in the first half. Eight plays and 80 yards later, Dallas had their first lead of the night. … and as it turned out, their last.
Perhaps not coincidentally, until this series Bryant had yet to even have a ball thrown his way, but on this possession, Romo first hit his star wideout for a 20-yard gain, shuffled one out to Murray for 24 yards and found Terrance Williams for 15 more. The drive was then capped with a quick pass to the left side from 5 yards out to Bryant, who scratched and clawed and finally dove for the end zone to get the score, a 7-3 advantage that would carry into the half.
That advantage didn’t last long, though. Washington came out after the break and marched 80 yards right down the field, doing so primarily on the ground. Alfred Morris had Roy Helu Jr. combined for five runs and 50 rushing yards, the last a 5-yard scamper up the middle by Morris for the touchdown and a lead change, 10-7.
And that’s when things went from bad to worse. On the Cowboys’ next possession, facing a third-and-11 from his own 36, Romo dropped back to pass only to have linebacker Keenan Robinson come untouched up the middle. Turning to absorb the ensuing hit, Romo took the brunt of the blow to his lower back, the same area in which he had offseason surgery. After several moments of lying still on the turf, he eventually got up and walked slowly off the field and directly to the locker room, his night over.
With that, the offense was turned over to backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, who was making his debut for the Cowboys.
After the defense did its part by limiting the Redskins to a three-and-out, Murray took the handoff on the Cowboys’ first snap of their following series and broke loose on a 51-yard run down to the Washington 3. There, the team had to settle for a chip-shot 21-yard field goal for Dan Bailey, after Bryant was unable to haul in what looked like a catchable pass, the game now tied 10-10.
This time, though, the Cowboys defense wasn’t up to the task. On the final play of the third quarter, Jackson got behind Brandon Carr, burning him for a 45-yard catch to the Dallas 8-yard line. Three plays later, McCoy darted up the middle on a quarterback draw, crashing across the goal line to go back on top, 17-10.
Not about to give up, the Cowboys responded with Weeden leading the charge. The quarterback threw the ball four times for a combined 69 yards, hitting Murray on a screen pass for 23 and then later wrapping up the drive with a 25-yard strike to a wide-open Jason Witten, who dove his way to paydirt, the game tied again, 17-17.
And that is where it would remain at the end of regulation, Romo able to get back on the field for the Cowboys’ final drive, but unable to get his team down the field.
With the Redskins winning the toss for the extra frame, they wasted little time jumping back into the lead. The Cowboys were unable to contain McCoy, who connected with Pierre Garcon for 23 yards and Jordan Reed for 16 during the drive, which eventually set up a successful 40-yard field goal for Forbath.
That gave the Cowboys one last chance, but on fourth-and-3 at their own 28-yard line, Romo again found himself under pressure, escaped, tried to find Witten on the right sideline, only to have the pass knocked away by cornerback Bashuad Breeland.
With that the Cowboys fell to 6-2 on the season, still in first place in the NFC East division. They’ll be back at AT&T Stadium next Sunday to host the Arizona Cardinals, leaders of the NFC West.
Postgame Multimedia … Cowboys-Redskins audio/video
Jason Garrett Postgame Press Conference … Listen/Download Now
Cowboys-Redskins Highlights (courtesy NFL, FOX Sports) … Watch Now
Weeden2Witten TD … Watch Now
Romo2Bryant TD … Watch Now
Romo2Williams first down … Watch Now
Murray gang stripped/fumble near goal line … Watch Now
Murray 51 yarder … Watch Now
Colt McCoy INT by J.J. Wilcox … Watch Now
Instant Analysis following Cowboys OT loss to Washington
ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys let one slip away Monday night, losing to a struggling Washington team. The 20-17 overtime loss snapped a six-game winning streak and dropped Dallas to 6-2.
Broaddus: You have to give the Redskins secondary a great deal of credit in the way that they not only played these Cowboys receivers but especially Dez Bryant. I did not feel like that David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland were up to the task but that wasn’t the case at all. It was their ability to lock up on these receivers that allowed Jim Haslett to use the blitz from the safeties off the edge. Where Bryant is most dangerous is his ability to find space and work himself open much like he did against the Giants last week. Amerson and Breeland never allowed him to get in the flow of the game and that is a problem for this offense when that happens. I will also say this about Bryant there were some plays in this game where I had seen him make the same catch a hundred times like on that slant from Brandon Weeden and to see the ball on the ground was surprising. It was a tough night for Bryant but you have to tip your hat to David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland were able to hold him in check.
Helman: Well, my predictions weren’t all terrible. I was right that Jim Haslett would find a way to pressure Tony Romo – and did he ever. The sacks Romo took, and the injury he sustained, were the stories of the game. I also said that Colt McCoy didn’t have it in him to beat the Cowboys, though, and I was clearly mistaken. He didn’t throw any touchdowns, but McCoy torched the Dallas defense and had one of the most effective games a quarterback has had against the Cowboys this year. With McCoy playing so effectively, it opened the field up for Alfred Morris to help keep the Dallas offense off the field, as the Redskins held the ball for 38 minutes. That’s one of my biggest impressions from this game: Washington was able to flip the script on Dallas’ formula for success. My other impression is basic common sense – the Cowboys were bound to lose one of these multiple-turnover games. You can’t play as sloppily as Dallas looked and expect to win every game. Back to the drawing board.
Eatman: The only thing I really got right in this gut feeling was the fact the Cowboys kept Washington in the game too long. In fact, they never really imposed their will on the Redskins, who outplayed the Cowboys in all phases. Colt McCoy wasn’t great but we knew that. He played a very solid game – really good at times and never bad. He was the best quarterback on the field – for this game and that was good enough. Give Washington tons of credit for a game plan that kept the Cowboys on their toes defensively and scrambling on offense. The Cowboys will probably end up with the better record this year but they weren’t the better team on this night. The Cowboys were too sloppy with the ball, with penalties and in tackling. The little things added up and that’s why this wasn’t a seven-game winning streak.
Turning Points and Analysis
There’s a reason why they say to throw out the records in rivalry games because you never know what’s going to happen. The Cowboys had its six-game winning streak come to a screeching halt and fall 20-17 to the Redskins in overtime Monday night at AT&T Stadium.
The Redskins used the Cowboys formula to win: controlled the clock, played good enough defense and executed in critical moments. Give credit to Washington. They outplayed the Cowboys on this night and deserved the victory.
The sky isn’t falling, we’ll monitor Romo’s back daily from here on out, but the Cowboys clearly lost a golden opportunity on this night. They let one slip away and those dreams of a 9-1 record at the bye have gone bye bye because here come the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon. They’re a much better team than the Redskins and Dallas will have to get ready on short rest.
Nobody doubts the toughness of Tony Romo, but the sack he took in the third quarter was that moment we’ve been dreading as fans of the Cowboys. He took a knee to the back and lay motionless on the AT&T turf for several minutes. Was it a missed assignment? Well-designed blitz? Doesn’t matter, Romo was under duress all night long and he paid for it. After X-rays in the locker room, he returned to the game, but he wasn’t the same.
Colt McCoy completed 83.3 percent of his passes, (25-30 for 299 yds) the most in Redskins history by a quarterback with at least 30 attempts. This was McCoy’s first start in the NFL since 2011 when he was playing with the Cleveland Browns. He showed veteran savvy and led the Redskins to a game winning 40-yard field goal from the boot of Kai Forbath. McCoy’s performance was unexpected, however highly impressive. On the Monday night stage, he never made the big mistake that cost his team.
DeSean Jackson’s big games against the Cowboys continued, as he caught six passes on seven targets for 136 yards. It was the first time the cover has come off the top of this Rod Marinelli defense. Jackson never broke one, but it allowed the Redskins to dictate play and keep the Cowboys off balance. Credit Colt McCoy’s ability to avoid the pass rush and keep plays alive at times. Jackson has always been a problem for the Cowboys and it seems that won’t change now that he’s playing with the Redskins.
Don’t Forget About…
Two fumbles from Cowboys running backs. One by Joseph Randle and another by DeMarco Murray. It cost them points that ultimately proved costly. Murray extended his 100 yard game rushing streak to eight games (19 carries for 141 yards), but putting the ball on the turf is becoming an issue. That’s his fifth of the year by the way, tied for the most in the NFL. Randle’s was also costly but the Cowboys were able to get the ball back on an interception. The Cowboys may have one of the better records in the league right now, but few teams are good enough to continuously shoot themselves in the foot. The Cowboys proved they weren’t on this night.