ARLINGTON, Texas – The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com shared their initial feelings of the Cowboys' 31-16 win over the Redskins here at AT&T Stadium.
I can only laugh ruefully at my prediction of 300 yards for Tony Romo and 34 points for the Dallas offense. Luckily, winning is all the matters in the NFL, and the Cowboys got the job done on that front. Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris hurt the Cowboys on the ground, but some timely turnovers and constant pressure by a makeshift defensive line rendered most of Griffin's stats ineffective. This is the game that should come to mind when you think of a total team win: big plays in the return game, successful field goals, one or two clutch completions, some tough rushing yards and an effective defensive performance. Not necessarily pretty, but a gutty team win.
The defense showed back up after a couple down weeks against Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning. I thought they'd come back to form, but I didn't think they'd have to do it without DeMarcus Ware. The defense did well not letting the Redskins finish their long drives, and it was the best overall performance of the year for the corners, who were tight in coverage. I predicted Terrance Williams would get one long grab and Miles Austin would have more targets. It was only a 15-yard touchdown grab for Williams, but it was a beauty in the back of the end zone, and Austin did have more targets (four total), but he couldn't secure any of them. I didn't think the offense could win with Tony Romo throwing for fewer than 200 yards, but it doesn't matter when Dwayne Harris is having that kind of day on special teams. Cole Beasley always seems to get open on short yardage situations, and the Cowboys need to find a way to keep him on the field more.
Alright well my gut wasn't feeling it as much today, aside from maybe RGIII running the ball more. DeMarco Murray's injury didn't help matters. But overall, I think the Cowboys did a nice job of bouncing back. Actually, they were able to find a way to win this game without some key players and without the offense playing that well. But it was a defensive stop here and some special teams magic there by Dwayne Harris. These games are all about finding a way to win anyone you can. So with that, it was an impressive win. Without a doubt, Brandon Carr played his best game of the season – he was all over Pierre Garcon. But guys like Kyle Wilber and Drake Nevis came up huge on the defensive line. If last week was a "moral victory" this was a "hard-fought win" and the Cowboys will take that all day, especially against a division foe they couldn't beat last year. [embedded_ad]
After what happened to Monte Kiffin and this Cowboys defense last week against the Broncos, I felt like that someone on this defense needed to stand up, draw the line in the sand and make some stops on this difficult Washington Redskins offense. At times, it was not pretty and without their best defensive player, a battered group of linemen lead by Jason Hatcher and a secondary that struggled the last two weeks to cover even the simplest routes, played their technique, with the greatest of skill. Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick were on point from the opening snap and it allowed this band of backups to pressure Robert Griffin III into several mistakes that swung the game into the Cowboys favor in the second half. Give Monte Kiffin and this defensive staff a lot of credit for the plan they put together, but give the players the majority of it for the way they executed it.
Here we're the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner, posted Saturday afternoon.
I'm positive the Redskins are going to throw some new looks at the Cowboys this weekend, and I'm pretty sure the Dallas defense isn't going to respond to well to it. I don't think Robert Griffin III is going to run for 100 yards, but I think he's got the mobility to evade the Dallas pass rush and make some plays. That said, I think the Cowboys offense will maintain its high performance from last week against an atrocious Washington secondary. With Miles Austin healthy, there should be even more options in the attack, and Tony Romo will find them for another 300-plus yard outing. Griffin and Alfred Morris will be able to move the ball well enough to score some points. But I think Romo and Co. lead Dallas to a close win. I'm thinking 34-31, Cowboys.
The Cowboys' defense will be happy to see anyone not named Peyton Manning this week. Robert Griffin III is still putting up nice numbers through the air, but he hasn't demonstrated the same explosiveness that made him so unstoppable last year. His defense hasn't helped him out much either, and I don't see that changing this weekend. I don't think the Cowboys offense spreads it out quite as much the way they did against the Broncos and the way many fans are clamoring for, but a more balanced attack will still get the victory. Terrance Williams will get sent on deeper routes and make one long grab, but Miles Austin will get more targets. Dez Bryant keeps his scoring streak going, while Bruce Carter gets back on track by affecting Robert Griffin III on the blitz.
This is a tricky game to gauge because while typically the Cowboys play the opposite of last week, how do we call last week's loss. Yes, it was a loss but offensively, they put on a show. So do the Cowboys bounce back from the tough defeat with a win, or do they falter offensively and play below the lofty expectations they've suddenly set. I think it's somewhere in between. I see the Cowboys struggling early on offense but picking it up in the second half to win by a touchdown. All this talk about RGIII not scrambling as much makes me think he'll break off a 30-yard run and probably have at least 50 yards rushing. Some random predictions include a turnover by Bruce Carter, a career-high rushing day for Joseph Randle (which could be one yard) but 120 rushing yards and two scores from DeMarco Murray.
It has been a rough two weeks for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and the Cowboys defense. The promising efforts against the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams seem like distant memories. Those days of turnovers, quarterback pressure and getting off the field on third downs, have been replaced by opponents moving the ball like they were throwing 7-on-7 drills. This will not be an easy task to defend the Washington attack, headlined by Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Pierre Garcon. But someone on this defense has to draw a line in the sand and find a way to make some game changing plays. The challenge will have to come from this current group, because Darren Woodson, Bob Lilly and Randy White are not walking through that door. My gut tells me that this defense will draw that line in the sand and find a way to get this season back on track with a great defensive effort.