Without Tony Romo having a big game and once again finding themselves facing an injury crisis at running back with DeMarco Murray out once again for a substantial amount of time, the Dallas Cowboys got a huge performance from Dwayne Harris, whose yard totals on special teams beat what the offense managed to produce, en route to a comfortable win.
The 31-16 win over the Washington Redskins means the Dallas Cowboys have pretty much eliminated yet another team from the NFC East race, as only the Philadelphia Eagles are left in the room. The Redskins (1-4) and the New York Giants (0-6) are no threat whatsoever to two imperfect teams with plenty of the same problems.
The Cowboys have no running game again. DeMarco Murray had 29 yards on 7 carries before leaving with an MCL sprain, which means there’s even more pressure now on Tony Romo to deliver on offense. He didn’t have the greatest of games against the worst pass defense in the NFL, completing only 18-of-30 for 170 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while the Cowboys got a total of 48 yards from the running game.
Even with a lead, they didn’t try and win the game by running all the time and eating up the clock. Bill Callahan didn’t call any running plays, and the few that did get sent down to Tony Romo were vetoes by him. Joseph Randle did get to score a touchdown that closed out the game with more than 8 minutes left in the fourth quarter, but it just goes to show how much the Cowboys value the backs they have on their depth chart behind DeMarco Murray.
So even though the Redskins did an excellent job in holding Romo to a very average display, including keeping Dez Bryant on 5 receptions and 36 yards; Jason Witten at 3 catches and 27 yards; and Miles Austin without a single reception, most of the offense was getting done when those guys were sitting on the bench watching.
First it was Dwayne Harris with an 86-yard punt return to give them a 11 point lead early in the second quarter, and then again it was Harris with a 90 yard kick return that set up an easy touchdown for the Cowboys. He finished with 222 return yards on both punts and kicks, while the Cowboys’ offense had a total of 213 yards. It’s not that Tony Romo was bad, especially when the Redskins tried to push him out of the pocket: he went 3-of-3 from 43 yards and a touchdown to Terrence Williams. He’s tied with Aaron Rodgers since the 2011 season for the most efficient TD-INT ratio on throws outside the pocket with 18 touchdowns and one interception.
Even without DeMarcus Ware who had to leave the game with a quad injury in the second quarter, the Redskins couldn’t shake the Cowboys’ pass rush. Griffin was sacked three times and hit quite a few more times with Jason Hatcher enjoying a big game (2 sacks). Washington went 0-of-3 in the redzone, as Griffin finished with 19-of-39, throwing no touchdown passes and one interception.
If DeMarco Murray is injured for a while, it’s going to get problematic for the Dallas Cowboys, who are struggling in stopping big passing plays and seem to get stuck on offense past the first quarter. Tony Romo is doing very well this season, without too many mistakes, but he’s not going to have Dwayne Harris putting up record setting numbers every game, and not every opponent is going to be as bad an impotent as the Redskins.