Let’s start with McFadden. The Cowboys running back hadn’t lost a fumble all year before Monday. That changed in a hurry as the Redskins recovered two of his fumbles including one at the start of each half.
Most coaches would have pulled the plug after that, but Jason Garrett stuck with his main man. Later, McFadden had a chance to score the game’s first touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Instead Chris Baker stonewalled him at the goal line for a loss of one.
But as fate would have it, McFadden was given one more shot at the end zone. This time he took advantage by tallying his third touchdown of the season. That play followed McFadden’s longest run of the night, a nine-yard scramble down the left sideline. McFadden would finish the evening with 53 yards on 14 carries.
Jackson only committed one miscue Monday but it couldn’t have come at a worse time. After securing a 41-yard punt by Chris Jones, the Redskins wideout thought it would be a good idea to switch fields. It was not. Instead of cutting his losses around the 25-yard-line, Jackson was nearly tackled outside the end zone but somehow managed to make it back to the nine-yard line. That’s where he coughed up the football, resulting in Washington’s first and only turnover.
McFadden scored two plays after Jackson’s fumble, leaving the Redskins 74 seconds to tie the game. They would only need 30. Kirk Cousins went for broke with a 28-yard heave to the back of the end zone. Jackson made the catch with plenty of room to spare after winning a footrace with Morris Claiborne. That knotted the score at 16 with 44 seconds left. Jackson finished with a game-high 80 yards on six catches.
Seventeen of the game’s 35 points came in the last minute and a half including both touchdowns. Dan Bailey gave Dallas the lead for good by booting a 54-yard field goal through the uprights with nine seconds remaining. The kick was his longest of the season.
History was made Monday when Cowboys tight end Jason Witten corralled his 1,000th career catch. He’s one of only 12 players to reach that milestone. Witten joins Tony Gonzalez as the only other tight end to accomplish the feat.
Meanwhile Redskins running back Alfred Morris didn’t see the field after the first quarter. He was out-touched 19 to six by Matt Jones. With Morris approaching the end of his rookie contract and Jones soaking up carries, it looks like a changing of the guard is already underway in Washington.
With Monday’s 19-16 win, the Cowboys are suddenly back in the NFC playoff picture. They’re only a game behind the Eagles, Redskins and Giants, who are currently in a three-way tie atop the NFC East at 5-7.
According to projections from FiveThirtyEight.com, there’s roughly a two percent chance the division winner could finish 6-10. Qualifying for the postseason with a losing record is rare but not unprecedented. The Panthers made the playoffs last year with only seven wins and something similar could play out in the AFC South if the Texans and Colts both limp to the finish line. The playoffs are as wide open as they’ve ever been. That will make even mediocre teams like the Redskins and Cowboys worth watching down the stretch.
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Chip’s Backfield Conundrum
The Eagles scored their biggest win of the Chip Kelly Era Sunday in Foxboro.
That’s the good news. The bad news is fantasy owners still have no idea what to expect from Philadelphia’s crowded backfield. Kelly made what was already a frustrating fantasy situation even more complicated by announcing that the team will choose its backfield rotation on a “week-to-week” basis.
After leading the league in rushing yards last year in Dallas, DeMarco Murray has become an afterthought in Philadelphia. He was out-touched by both Darren Sproles and Kenjon Barner on Sunday and has averaged just 11.7 carries per game over his last three outings.
If Murray is falling through the cracks now, who knows how far he’ll sink down the rabbit hole when Ryan Mathews finally returns from his concussion. Though his durability remains a huge question mark, Mathews has easily been the Eagles’ most efficient rusher this season. In fact, he leads the NFL in yards per carry and has actually scored more rushing touchdowns than Murray despite logging 88 fewer carries.
Kelly seems to have finally recognized that Murray isn’t a good fit for his offense. If only he had made that discovery nine months ago before the Eagles inked Murray to a five-year deal with $21 million guaranteed.
For a while, it looked like Kelly might be on his way out of Philadelphia. His job is still far from secure but Sunday’s win must have given him at least a little more rope. USC contacted Kelly about their head coaching vacancy before promoting interim head coach Clay Helton and some have speculated Kelly could be lured to Tennessee for a reunion with Marcus Mariota. But for now, his focus is on Philadelphia.
Chip told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King he “made a commitment” to the Eagles and that he plans to “see it through.” That comes on the heels of another report filed by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. On Sunday, La Canfora noted that owner Jeffrey Lurie is “not mulling a change” and “believes in Kelly long-term.” Kelly and the Eagles will host Buffalo in Week 14.
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Quick Hits: The Seahawks waived Cary Williams on Monday. Most of us saw the writing on the wall when Williams was a healthy scratch Sunday against the Vikings … Allen Hurns has been cleared to play after missing one game with a concussion. Allen Robinson went bonkers in his absence, producing 10 catches for 153 yards and three touchdowns against the Titans in Week 13 … According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Rob Gronkowski (knee) is unlikely to suit up Sunday against the Texans. It would be his second straight absence. Scott Chandler did a nice job in his place Sunday against the Eagles, catching four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown … Colts coach Chuck Pagano expects Matt Hasselbeck to practice on Wednesday. He’s dealing with multiple injuries including a stiff neck and a mild rib separation … Phillip Dorsett is expected to resume practicing this week. He’s missed the Colts’ last five games with a fractured ankle … Dontrelle Inman is day-to-day with a neck injury. That’s great news after he was stretchered off Sunday against Denver … Brock Osweiler will start his fourth straight game Sunday against the Raiders. Peyton Manning is still week-to-week with a torn plantar fascia … The Rams fired offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti on Monday. He’ll be replaced by tight ends coach Rob Boras … It’s been widely reported that Johnny Manziel will start Cleveland’s final four games, though coach Mike Pettine refused to show his hand during Monday’s media availability. Austin Davis completed 25-of-38 passes for 230 yards in Sunday’s blowout loss to Cincinnati … Travis Benjamin left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury but isn’t expected to miss any time. He leads the Browns with 826 receiving yards this year … The Titans are hoping to have Dexter McCluster back this week. He’s sat out the last two games with a sprained MCL … Darrelle Revis remains in the league’s concussion protocol. The Jets have gone 2-0 during his absence but have allowed 648 passing yards over that stretch … The Eagles cut Miles Austin on Monday. He’s caught just two passes over his last four games and was a healthy scratch Sunday against New England … Niners coach Jim Tomsula admitted Carlos Hyde (foot) might not return this season. He hasn’t played since Week 7 and didn’t even make the trip to Chicago for Sunday’s game against the Bears … Speaking of the 49ers, their Week 15 matchup against the Bengals has been flexed out of the Sunday night game. Instead, Cardinals/Eagles has been moved to the 8:30 PM time slot … Vance McDonald has entered the league’s concussion protocol. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready for Sunday’s game at Cleveland … Kwon Alexander will begin serving his four-game PED suspension Sunday when the Buccaneers host New Orleans. He’ll finish the regular season with 93 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions … Joe Flacco will have surgery to repair his torn ACL and MCL on Tuesday. Matt Schaub has been starting in his absence … Ravens tight end Nick Boyle has been suspended four games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy. The rookie has caught 18 passes for 153 yards this season … Ereck Flowers has been diagnosed with a high-ankle sprain. Justin Pugh will fill in at left tackle during his absence … Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports the Saints won’t fire coach Sean Payton after the season but the team is open to trading him … The Bills consider Aaron Williams (neck) only 50-50 to return this season. He was placed on short-term injured reserve after Week 5 … Bills coach Rex Ryan acknowledged that Karlos Williams could return Sunday against the Eagles. He missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury … ESPN had a hard time spelling Redskins on Monday night.