Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ 33-19 loss to the Cowboys:
You can't be that imperfect when you have to be perfect—The Redskins went into this game needing to play mistake-free football due to their major injury issues. They went out and committed enough mistakes to lose a game even at full health. The blocked field goal in the second quarter that turned a potential nine-point lead into a one point deficit was the most glaring. The Redskins never led after that. Then two third-quarter fumbles let Dallas stretch its lead. On top of all of that, there were some dropped passes—a third-down drop by Josh Doctson when the game still was competitive—and some ill-timed penalties that contributed to making the mountain too high for the Redskins to climb.
The patchwork O-line did as well as could be expected—They weren't a new edition of the Hogs or anything but they didn't embarrass themselves either. T.J. Clemmings, Chase Roullier, Tyler Catalina, and, for most of the second half, Arie Kouandjio gave Kirk Cousins time to throw and stayed away from making penalties. The first flag against the O-line came late in the third quarter and it was on Morgan Moses. The four of them gained some valuable experience and the Redskins’ offensive line has some more proven depth than it did before. You just don’t want all four of them in the game at the same time if you can help it going forward.
The Redskins can't win unless they run—Even if I didn’t see this game, all I would have needed was a look at the rushing stats and I could have told you that the Redskins had lost this game. The running back carried 12 times and in all they gained just 49 yards rushing against the 24th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL. This team, like most in the NFL, can’t win if they can’t run.
Defense fought well—Some might look at the 33 points the Redskins gave up and think that the defense played poorly. But Dallas got one touchdown after the blocked field goal fiasco gave them the ball at the two and another on the late pick six that Cousins threw. Add in the two fumbles that set up field goals in the third quarter and you have 20 points that were handed to the Cowboys on a silver platter. They weren’t dominant by any stretch, giving up 307 yards including 150 on the ground to Zeke Elliott. But they didn’t break often and the unit played well enough to win the game.
The Redskins are where nobody wants to be—They are going to Seattle to play in a must-win game. Maybe it’s not really a must-win but they will be in a desperate spot if the fall to 3-5. We don’t yet know who will be back from the injury list or who might be added to the list after tonight (Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, and others are possible candidates to miss a week or two). Maybe Brandon Scherff will be ready to play and Ty Nsekhe will be back to add some depth to the line. But even an intact Redskins team would have a tough time winning in Seattle. But it’s where the Redskins find themselves after being too banged up and making too many mistakes to steal a division win in Week 8.