Here are a bunch of tidbits, news and notes about the Redskins game against the Cowboys.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 23, Cowboys 28
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?
Prioleau is 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 coverage.
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 catch.
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.
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