LANDOVER, MD – The Cowboys avoided an 0-2 start to the season with a dramatic 27-23 win over the Redskins Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field that came down to the final play of the game.
On Friday, the staff writers gave their gut feeling for Sunday's game. Check out the instant reactions from the staff of DallasCowboys.com.
David Helman: I really thought the Dallas ground game would be better – as evidenced by my faulty pregame predictions. Ezekiel Elliott definitely had a better day than he did last week, but the Cowboys still only ran for 3.4 yards per carry on Sunday – not to mention the two fumbles. It didn't matter, though, because Dak Prescott continues to play like a seasoned veteran. His cool under pressure is unbelievably impressive, even when it doesn't translate into big gains. He just doesn't make mistakes, and that's invaluable. But enough about the offense. I predicted on Friday that the Dallas defense would find ways to get off the field, despite giving up several big plays. That was correct – but I never could have imagined these types of heroics. The Cowboys put this defense in so many bad situations – the onside kick, the two fumbles, the last-gasp drive after failing to run out the clock. Time after time they delivered, whether it was with an interception, a key stop or holding Washington to a field goal. The stat sheet is going to tell you that the Redskins piled up 432 yards. But picking up yardage doesn't matter if it doesn't translate into points. This defense deserves all the credit in the world for that fact.
Nick Eatman:Last week, I started off by saying "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong." I won't do the opposite here, but let's just say it was a big turnaround in this week's Gut Feeling. Other than getting the 27-23 score, I had Dak Prescott scoring two rushing touchdowns, although he managed to get just one. And I did say there would be a blocked punt. You don't get all of them right, but the exact score should be good enough here. Now, to clarify, I did pick the Redskins to win the game earlier on Friday during our podcast, but later in the afternoon, I just wasn't feeling it. I just thought the Cowboys would do what they always do up in Washington, and find a way to win. To me, Dak Prescott was very impressive – the player of the game in my book. And the Redskins' play-caller was also a big factor in Dallas winning this one. But hey, you can't control that side of the ball. The Cowboys won an ugly game, but avoiding an 0-2 start, and putting the Redskins at 0-2 with a pair of home losses, is rather pretty for this team.
Rob Phillips:I predicted a Cowboys victory on the strength of their offensive line and an improved running game after averaging only 3.4 yards per carry in Week 1. Ezekiel Elliott did look like a more patient runner in his second game, despite his two fumbles, and Alfred Morris delivered the winning touchdown run. But the Cowboys rallied to win Sunday because their defense stopped the Redskins on three straight drives to end the game and allowed six points over the final 20 minutes of play despite three Redskins trips to the red zone. That, and Dak Prescott once again showed uncommon poise for a rookie quarterback.
Bryan Broaddus: I came into this concerned about the ability of Kirk Cousins and the Redskins' receiving group to take over the game. I had confidence that Byron Jones and Morris Claiborne would be up to the task, but worried that nobody else really would be and that likely would be your ball game. But when James Crowder ends up being the leading receiver and not DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon or Jordan Reed, I would call that a victory.
By no means was the Cowboys secondary perfect in the way they played because there were missed opportunities by Cousins. The film will show some blown coverages and guys getting run by, but as a group, they were able to hang in there. Where this secondary was good was in their ability to come up with plays at the absolute perfect time. Barry Church's interception was huge, as was the way that Claiborne, Jones and Brandon Carr played defending pass after pass in the red zone.
The numbers will say that Cousins had a big day throwing the ball, but in the end, Washington was only 2 of 6 in red-zone trips. After last week against the Giants, that was huge improvement.
For the initial gut feeling predictions of the staff writers posted on Friday, click here.