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Need to Know: The five key moments from the Redskins' loss to the Cowboys

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USA TODAY Sports

Need to Know: The five key moments from the Redskins' loss to the Cowboys

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 30, six days before the Washington Redskins go to Seattle to play the Seahawks.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Jay Gruden new conference 3 pm

Days until:

—Vikings @ Redskins (11/12) 13
—Redskins @ Saints (11/9) 20
—Giants @ Redskins Thanksgiving (11/23) 24

The five key moments from Redskins vs. Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott fumble on first play from scrimmage—Matt Ioannidis forced it, Josh Norman recovered it, and the Redskins were set up with a first down at the Dallas 29. The offensive play selection was tepid, with three conservative passes gaining nine yards. Nick Rose kicked a 38-yard field goal and although the Redskins managed to convert the turnover into points they did not maximize.

The blocked field goal—In the second quarter, Rose lined up to attempt a 36-yard field goal with Washington up 13-7. The snap was a little off and perhaps a more experienced kicker could have overcome that. But Rose was kicking in his second NFL game and it seemed that the timing was a fraction late and the kick was blocked. Orlando Scandrick picked the ball up and rolled 86 yards. Two plays later the Cowboys were in the end zone and what was going to be a nine-point lead into a one-point deficit. The Redskins never led again.

Back to back fumbles in third quarter—It was still 14-13 and Redskins had a nice drive going after receiving the second-half kickoff. But on a third-down play at midfield, Tyrone Crawford got to Cousins and knocked the ball out. Demarcus Lawrence recovered for the Cowboys. Then, after a Dallas field goal, Chris Thompson fumbled the ball on the kickoff. It looked like two Redskins had a bead on it but the Cowboys ended up with it, setting up a field goal. A one-point game had become a one-touchdown game at 20-13 and the mountain the wounded Redskins needed to climb became higher and, with the rain increasing in intensity, literally slipperier.

Josh Doctson drop—On the next possession, the Redskins faced third and seven at their own 22. Doctson had a couple of steps on his defender going down the left sideline. Cousins pass was short but Doctson still had an opportunity to turn and make a catch that would have given the Redskins a first down near midfield. But the ball went through Doctson’s arms and fell incomplete. The Redskins punted and the Cowboys drove for another field goal to make it a two-score game.

Dez Bryant third-down catch—The Redskins showed some fight as they drove for a touchdown to make it 26-19 with about four and a half minutes to play. They kicked away, hoping to get the ball back for a final drive. They still had two time outs left when the Cowboys faced third and four at their own 31. But Dak Prescott was able to find Bryant, who had mostly been quiet all day, near the left sideline for five yards. The rest of the game was a mere formality.

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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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.