The Dallas Cowboys offensive line couldn’t handle the blitz and made it easy for the Washington Redskins defense to sack and injury Tony Romo time after time, as the formerly hottest team in the NFL lost 20-17 in overtime, with Colt McCoy not doing great, but just about enough to pick up a victory on his first start at quarterback in three years.
The Redskins couldn’t slow down DeMarco Murray, who ran for 141 yards on 19 carries, and added 80 reception yards as well. But the Cowboys ran the ball on the ground just 25 times, not exactly according to their working plan from the previous week. Tony Romo was sacked five times and even had to leave the game until late in the fourth quarter as Brandon Weeden came on to play for him. The Cowboys didn’t fall apart, but they struggled picking up the blitz and giving their quarterbacks time for big completions down the field.
McCoy, the third quarterback to start this season for the Redskins, didn’t throw any touchdown passes. He did, however, find it very easy to make big plays with his arm, finding DeSean Jackson down the field again and again. McCoy completed 25-of-30 passes for 299 yards, with Jackson catching six for 136 yards, giving the Redskins a lot of room to breathe and made it easier for them to finish plays. That included a 23-yard pass to Pierre Garcon and a 16-yard completion to Jordan Reed as the Redskins moved the chains easily en route to scoring an overtime field goal.
The Cowboys started that crucial drive with giving Murray a chance to run for 8 yards, but then tried to pass on three consecutive plays, something that didn’t work for them all game long, and they ended up losing the game on downs, on their own 27. Romo did throw one touchdown pass to Dez Bryant and didn’t throw any interceptions, but two turnovers (fumbles by Murray and Joseph Randle) proved to be way too costly for them.
One thing the Cowboys have done well this season thanks to Murray and the offensive line was control the clock. For the first time in quite a while, the Cowboys lost the possession battle, holding on to it 10 minutes less than their opponents. The Redskins gained 123 yards on rushing plays, including 78 for Alfred Morris, as he and Colt McCoy each ran for touchdowns. The Cowboys rushed for 166 yards overall, but maybe should have tried a bit more to go on the ground.
The five sacks for the Redskins all came on blitzes with a defensive back joining the pass rush. The Cowboys got three sacks themselves, two by Henry Melton, but for the first time since week 1 lost the battle of the trenches in a simple strategy of numbers and bad blocking. The Redskins seemed inferior in almost every way going into this game, but the NFL is often a strange league, and turnovers often dictate completely new rules to the encounter.
With their second loss of the season, the Cowboys did the Philadelphia Eagles a huge favor, making their loss to the Arizona Cardinals a lot less meaningful. It also means that both the Redskins and the Giants, even though it’s not very likely, especially for the Redskins, still have a thing or two to say about who comes out of the NFC East and makes the playoffs.