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Injuries and miscues just too much for Redskins in sloppy loss to Cowboys

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Injuries and miscues just too much for Redskins in sloppy loss to Cowboys

The Redskins were bealeagured by injuries and sloppy conditions on Sunday, falling to the Dallas Cowboys 33-19 at FedEx Field.

After taking a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, a blocked field goal and lengthy return changed the complexion of the game, with the Cowboys scoring 19 straight points. The injuries piled up and Kirk Cousins and the offense could not mount a comeback.

Here are Rich Tandler's observations.

RELATED: WHO ARE THE MOST HATED COWBOYS OF ALL TIME?

First Half

— The Redskins are getting hit in their nickel defense. In Dallas’ opening drive, Ezekiel Elliott ran for eight and 13 yards, the last one for a touchdown. They need to tighten up their run defense in nickel or go more base on first down.

— In the early going, the Redskins were not running very effectively, but the commitment to running helped them when Cousins got away from the short and horizontal passing game and went deep to Jamison Crowder, setting up the Redskins’ first touchdown.

— Cousins was sharp in the early going, completing seven of 10 passes for 80 yards. But he sailed a third-down pass to Pryor just a bit high and the receiver couldn’t quite get two feet down and they had to settle for a field goal.

— The Redskins have not made many positive plays on special teams but they have mostly avoided making negative plays. Until today. Tress Way had problems getting the ball down on a field goal attempt. It was blocked but went forward a few yards. Orlando Scandrick got an 86-yard return and two plays later what looked like was going to be a nine-point Redskins lead turned into a one-point Dallas lead. Now the special teams owe a big play.

— The makeshift offensive line is playing as well as can be expected. No penalties, a couple of sacks but for the most part Cousins has had time to throw. At the half only nine rushing attempts for Washington so it’s hard to judge the performance there.

Second half

— The Redskins’ first turnover of the game caused some damage. Cousins was sacked and had the ball knocked away during the first drive of the second half. Dallas recovered near midfield and turned it into a field goal. The Redskins can’t afford to give away any points.

— But they did. On the kickoff following the field goal, Chris Thompson was hit and fumbled. Two Redskins had the ball in their arms but they couldn’t squeeze it and the Cowboys recovered. A holding penalty negated an Elliott touchdown run but it did set up another field goal. With about six minutes left in the third quarter, the Redskins had given the Cowboys 13 points on the field goal block and the two fumbles.

— The Redskins’ defense is starting to wear down late in the third quarter. After a three and out, which happened because Josh Doctson couldn’t hold on to a deep sideline pass that would have given the Redskins a first down in Dallas territory, Dallas go the ball near midfield. Elliott found running room Prescott completed a couple of passes and Nugent kicked another field goal to give the Cowboys a 10-point lead. In the third quarter the Redskins had the ball for slightly over five minutes.

— The Redskins are running out of bodies. By the end of the third quarter, LG Shawn Lauvao (stinger), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), and DE Matt Ioannidis (hand) were all sidelined with various injuries. While Dallas was getting stronger, the Redskins were fading.

— On a positive note, Jamison Crowder became the first Redskins receiver this year to top 100 yards receiving. He caught one for 41 yards early and kept it rolling. The two who are supposed to be leading the charge, Terrelle Pryor and Doctoson, had two receptions for six yards between them with five minutes left to play.

— The Redskins got a couple of breaks on two near-interceptions that Dallas defenders couldn’t hold on to and a touch pass interference penalty in the end zone but they did get a touchdown that pulled them to within seven. The extra point was missed, another special teams gaffe.

— The Cowboys are going to leave FedEx Field with a win that wasn’t entirely a gift. However the team that couldn’t afford to make many mistakes, the one that had to play a clean game, made too many mistakes—dropped passes, turnovers, special teams gaffes, and more. The Redskins had their shots but they just gave Dallas too many opportunities.

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Final thoughts on Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, November 23, seven days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Redskins Kickoff 7:30 NBC Sports Washington; Redskins vs. Giants, NBC, 8:30  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Cowboys Thursday night (11/30) 7
—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 17
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 24

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Giants

Look out for Eli—There are many reasons why the Giants are 2-8 but Eli Manning is not one of them. He isn’t nearly the turnover machine he has been for much of his career. His interception percentage this year is 1.6; he hasn’t been under 2.3 percent interceptions this decade. Manning only has 14 touchdown passes but considering that Odell Beckham, who went out in the fourth game of the season, still leads Giants wide receivers in touchdown receptions, that’s not bad.

Running game stuck—What makes Manning’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he doesn’t get much support from a running game. The Giants are 26th in the league with 920 yards. They have gained some traction lately after installing Orleans Darkwa as the starting running back; he is averaging 4.8 yards per carry for the season and 71 yards per game over the last three games. The Redskins certainly don’t want to let him get going tonight.

Reverting to reality—The Giants ranked 32nd in total defense in 2015. They dropped millions on free agents such as Janoris Jenkins, David Harrison, and Olivier Vernon and jumped to 10th. Now, this year they are 31st and equally bad against the pass (29th) and the run (30th). Health hasn’t been a huge issue, although Vernon has missed a few games and Jenkins was suspended. Redskins fans know full well that spending sprees don’t necessarily make for permanent improvements and Giants fans are learning it this year.

Keys to winning

  • Run the ballThe Redskins are 4-2 this year when rushing for 90 yards or more.
  • Continue to protect the ball—The Redskins have turned the ball over just twice in their last three games.
  • Don’t give them hope—The Chiefs let the Giants hang around last week and New York stole a win. The Redskins need to get on top early and mash down on the gas pedal.

Prediction—It’s hard to see a scenario where the Redskins lose this one. Even in their injury-depleted state they are battling every game and the same can’t be said for their opponents today. The weather forecast is for cold temperatures but not much wind, ideal conditions for Cousins to throw for 300 yards. For once, the Redskins get up early and keep going.

Redskins 31, Giants 13

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.