What surprised you most on the final offensive drive?
I watched it from field level and I am looking forward to catching it on tape as we head home, but just the confidence that Tony Romo continued to show in Terrance Williams surprised me most. Give both Williams and Romo a great deal of credit. There was no doubt that the Redskins were not going to allow Dez Bryant or Jason Witten to beat them in that situation, so working the ball in the direction of Williams was the smart play throughout the drive.
Even if Romo would have gone in the direction of Cole Beasley, I would have expected it. What was even more amazing about it was how poised Williams was in the way he ran his routes, which allowed Romo to find him. It would have been very easy for Williams to allow the moment to be too big and be lazy or not committed to what he needed to do on the drive. He executed well and he rewarded his quarterback with some big time plays.
By the coaches playing Williams early in the season and giving him responsibility, it made him ready for this type of moment. It was nice to see that Romo trusted him as well.
How much does DeMarco Murray mean to this offense?
You have heard me say this a bunch: When you have a running back that is a complete player, you have a chance in this league to move the ball with success.
Murray has played this season with a chip on his shoulder. There were those that doubted his ability, whether he could be a difference-maker as a running back, and that he was too injury prone to have any long-term success. What Murray did today was nothing short of amazing. Other than the run on the final drive where he made the mental mistake and loss nine yards on the carry, he ran the ball with toughness and determination.
He stood tall in the pocket on blitz pickup and refused to give an inch, but he also was once again outstanding in having the awareness to find space underneath in routes. From my angle on the sideline, I wasn't sure that Romo saw him, but he was able to get him the ball. What was impressive about the catch was Murray's ability to secure the ball and then keep his balance in order to fight his way into the end zone.
There are plenty of important players on this team, but if you don't think DeMarco Murray is one of them, you really are not in tune with the game.
How confident were you that the defense could get one final stop? [embedded_ad]
This defense has had its share of problems this season. They have struggled with pressure, they don't always play the run well enough, and when it comes to handling a receiver on third down to get off the field, they are far from perfect.
But give Monte Kiffin and this defense a ton of credit on the final two Redskins drives. It was evident that Washington was interested in trying to protect a lead and was committed to trying to do just that. Although offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan slammed Alfred Morris into the line time and time again, the defense did not allow the Redskins to get in a manageable third-down situation and despite a pass to Aldrick Robinson, they were able to bow their necks and make a stop with Orlando Scandrick playing against Pierre Garcon in the middle of the field, forcing a punt.
When the Redskins took the ball over on their final drive, the Cowboys defense went in lockdown mode. The coverage from field level was airtight and it was difficult for any of the Washington receivers to find any space. Scandrick, Sterling Moore, Brandon Carr, Jeff Heath and Barry Church were at their best when this defense needed them the most.
I kept my eyes down the field and I never witnessed the open receivers that at times we had seen earlier in the game. The coverage and pressure made Kirk Cousins look like the young, inexperienced quarterback that he was. With their season on the line, this Cowboys defense did something I am sure none of us believed they could do – made two stops and gave this squad a shot to play for a division title next week.