1. We asked: How effective can Santana Moss be?
We weren’t sure given
his injury-filled season and the fact that he hadn’t had a big game in
a long, long time. But Moss came through big-time with nine catches for
121 yards, including a nifty one-handed grab down the right sidelines.
When he rights, he threatens the offense like no other receiver on the
Redskins. Sunday, he looked right.
2. We asked: Do the Redskins think they can win this game?
This was difficult to answer because the Redskins did not exude anything during
the week. Clearly, they played as if they believed. They took it to
Dallas from the start and had the Cowboys very anxious. Funny thing is,
the one game where they seemed different beforehand – more focused even
– was the New England game. This team does better when it treats every
game the same. In hindsight, that’s what they did this past week.
3. We asked: Is Dallas the best team in the NFC?
We thought so before
the game and we haven’t changed our mind. But their secondary has
issues that Brett Favre could exploit. It’s just that the Dallas
offense is so hard to contain. And few teams, maybe one, are equipped
to deal with the Cowboys.
4. We asked: How can the Redskins pull off the upset?
We thought by
playing darn near perfect and being aggressive. They did a pretty good
job protecting Jason Campbell, save for a couple instances. And we
didn’t think they could win by sticking to the ground game. Fortunately
they didn’t. They stayed aggressive on offense and slowed the offense,
for a while, by mixing looks on defense. But, and this is big, I’m not
confident they can win such games with Joe Gibbs never rolling the dice
a little and going for it on a fourth down every so often. He had two
chances and opted for the field goal both times. The first time, in the
first half, produced a missed 50-yard attempt. That’s the one I would
have gone for. To beat a top team on the road you have to take a chance
or two. Gibbs refuses to do so and it will always cost this team.
5. We asked: Can Pierson Prioleau hold up at safety?
versatile, but he’s also limited. But Reed Doughty started with
Prioleau manning his nickel safety role, though he did play quite a
bit. Prioleau was late and took a bad angle on Terrell Owens’ 52-yard
grab down the right side. But he wasn’t the only problem with the
6. We asked: Who else must play better defensively?
We thought, aside
from, well, everyone, that Rocky McIntosh had to show up big time. And
Andre Carter. The latter did almost nothing, as often happens when he’s
faced with a really good tackle. McIntosh had a pretty decent game and
nearly made a very nice diving interception. Actually, he did until
replays overturned the call. It’s too bad because that play could have
changed the game by giving Washington a chance for a 10-point lead.
Instead, Dallas scored a touchdown four plays later.
7. We asked: Can they stop the Dallas offense?
We thought that was hard
to imagine and was very impressed what they did in the first half. The
Redskins mixed coverages and often gave one look at the snap that
turned into another before the throw. Give Gregg Williams credit for
his impressive scheming. But in the end talent won out and the Redskins
could not handle T.O. Also, the Cowboys knew the Redskins loved the
Cover 2 and eventually capitalized. T.O.’s touchdown down the middle
showed that; he faked inside and turned linebacker London Fletcher
around and then T.O. went straight up for an easy catch and score. The
Redskins did not get to Tony Romo enough to slow him. But Romo has T.O.
and that eventually bailed him out.
8. We asked: Who could have a big game Sunday?
We thought Chris Cooley
would have one and he did. Roy Williams is horrendous in coverage and
the Redskins took advantage. Cooley also knows where the soft spots are
and has good instincts. On the Antwaan Randle El pass attempt, Cooley
was blocking on the line as he should have been. When he turned and saw
Randle El in trouble, he slid to the middle of the field for a big
9. We asked: What’s the other big worry?
That would be Dallas’ 3-4
front. The Cowboys have two good rush linebackers in DeMarcus Ware and
Greg Ellis. Ware had some pressure and even forced a fumble, but Chris Samuels handled him much of the day. The Redskins also took the ends
out of the ground game by hitting Dallas inside. Washington helped
right tackles Stephon Heyer and Todd Wade by giving them tight end help
almost all the time. It worked.
10. We asked: Who will win?
Like everyone else, we picked Dallas to
win, 30-13. The game was much closer than we – and probably many others
– anticipated. Give the Redskins credit for hanging tough, but at some
point you have to win those games. Heck, the New York Jets upset
Pittsburgh. So you can’t draw too many conclusions from one game. The
Redskins obviously missed Sean Taylor and played gutsy ball. But can
they do this for multiple weeks? If Campbell stays hot they can do some
damage. They just have to now hope they haven’t hurt themselves too
much with their missed opportunities in four of their five losses.
Unlike losses to the Eagles and Giants, this game was a clear
reflection of the talent gap between the teams.