Thoughts from the Press Box:
• There was no doubt in my mind that having to face Robert Griffin III was going to be a difficult task for Rob Ryan and his defense. I don't believe that it was because of the short week or the type of offense they run, but the fact that Griffin is a special player.
I thought that Ryan had a good plan, but when they really needed a stop, Griffin was able to respond in only a way that he could. Even when Ryan had defenders in position to make plays, he was able to fit the ball into tight windows with accuracy and pace.
There is so much poise to Griffin's game that you forget he is only in his first season of NFL play. When I worked for the Packers there was one player that always made me hold my breath when the ball was in his hands and that was Barry Sanders. When watching Griffin, I get that same feeling because of what he can do with the ball and the potential for a huge play at any point in the drive.
Where the Redskins had struggled in games like this in the past against Dallas was at quarterback. After what I saw tonight, they have a rare talent on their hands for future matchups.
• The receivers that finished the game for the Cowboys tonight were Dez Bryant, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley. Miles Austin left the game in the first half with a hip injury and Kevin Ogletree was out with a concussion.
Other than the fumble, it was another quality game for Bryant, who in the past has struggled to be a consistent player throughout the entire game. Harris and Beasley had 20 targets between them and ended up with 11 catches.
When Tony Romo was done with his press conference, a group of reporters were walking out with him into the hallway when he was asked about how he thought his young receivers did. His answer was not surprising. He was really pleased the way they handled themselves during the game.
I have always believed that Romo throws to receivers and tight ends when he has confidence in them. Both Harris and Beasley played in a manner that had to give the quarterback confidence. Their route-running and ability to secure the ball was much needed as this offense tried to claw its way back into this game. I am always a fan of playing young players when given an opportunity, and with what is going on health-wise with these receivers, they will have plenty of more chances.
It was very clear this afternoon that one team can run the football when they need to and the other can't. The Redskins have a big-time back in Alfred Morris and the more they gave him the ball, the more I thought the Cowboys, defensively, were in trouble. He is a perfect back for this offense because you have a quarterback that does such a nice job with the ball, the defense can't just sit on one thing, much like what the Cowboys are going through now.
Morris is a physical, downhill runner and the Cowboys initially did a nice job of staying square and not allowing him much room to operate. But as the game wore on, you could see that it was harder and harder for the defense to tackle Morris because of the pounding he dishes out. With no Bruce Carter in the fourth quarter, the task became even more difficult when they needed a stop because physically, Dan Connor and Ernie Sims just couldn't match up.
As long as Alfred Morris is in the Washington backfield, this offense will be difficult to handle because he will always make the threat of play-action a real possibility. Give the Redskins a lot of credit for getting him where they did in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
• I wish I had a great answer for why this offense struggles so much to start the game, but here's my two cents anyway:
There is not one thing they do on offense that they are really good at. They don't protect the passer, they don't run the ball well enough and they have turnovers at the worst times.
Romo was asked about it after the game and his answer was pretty simple – execution. When you don't execute your offense, it's hard to sustain drives and finish them with points. There were too many times in the first half where the team was behind the chains and Romo was forced to try and make a play. When there is no flow to your offense or you're not having any success, you're going to give the defense an opportunity to get you off the field.
I am going to be real honest. This Redskins defense should not have been able to shut the Cowboys offense down in the first half the way they did. But, this offense had series where they made life for Washington defensive coordinator Jim Hasslett very comfortable.
I know there was no Demarco Murray, Tyron Smith or Miles Austin, but this defense had struggled all year to get offenses off the field. This was a secondary that allowed big plays, we saw that in the second half.
When you start slow and get way behind, the game plan goes out the window. Just ask the quarterback that had to throw the ball tonight 62 times. You are not going to win many games that way, which is something we are understanding all too well.