Football Team

What was real in Washington's win over Dallas and what wasn't?

Football Team

The Washington Football Team beat Dallas on Sunday.

Or, actually, did Dallas beat themselves on Sunday and Washington just happened to be around while that took place?

That's what needs to be figured out in the aftermath of the Burgundy and Gold's 25-3 Week 7 victory. So, uh, let's try to figure it out, storyline by storyline.

1) The immense success of Washington's defensive line

Montez Sweat picked up two sacks, while Ryan Kerrigan, Landon Collins, Cole Holcomb and Tim Settle all contributed one. Together, that's six sacks, good for the defense's best total since the Week 1 opener.

What's worth nothing is that, much like the opener, Washington was facing an offensive line that was pieced together with backups and backup backups. So, their two best efforts in 2020 have come when their opponents were scrambling up front.

The group still deserves praise for producing the way they should've and the way the franchise needed them to. However, until they put together a performance like the one they did in Week 7 versus a complete set of blockers, it's hard to get too carried away. 

Was this more about Washington being good or Dallas being a disaster?: Dallas being a disaster.

2) Antonio Gibson's enormous day

On Sunday, the visitors brought their second-to-last ranked run defense into FedEx Field. That certainly factored in to Gibson's first-career 100-yard output (he finished with 128).

That said, the rookie from Memphis has been getting closer and closer to an effort like the one he produced in the NFC East showdown, which is something he touched on while doing an interview with the media following the win.

 

"I'm just learning the game," he said. "It’s new to me to get as many reps at running back. ... Just being patient and trusting my blockers is where I feel like I grew in the past two weeks."

Gibson's size and speed are legit NFL tools. As he continues to get more and more used to the lanes and angles he needs to take out of the backfield — a spot that, like he mentioned, he's still relatively new to — he'll rip off more big gains and churn out more impressive statlines.

Don't get it twisted: Going against Dallas' defense helped. Gibson's natural explosion and incremental growth, though, mattered more.

Was this more about Washington being good or Dallas being a disaster?: Washington being good,

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3) Terry McLaurin's enormous day

McLaurin can handle top-of-the-league corners and he can handle not-top-of-the-league corners. He dealt with the latter category in Washington's second win in 2020, but that shouldn't take away from yet another excellent showing.

Sunday marked the fourth time this season that McLaurin posted at least seven catches, and that's through just seven appearances so far. In 2019, he reached that number just once. 

The guy is a star, no matter the time and no matter the matchup. This one's simple.

Was this more about Washington being good or Dallas being a disaster?: Washington being good.

4) Washington's defense collectively allowing just three points

This one's the toughest to assess.

As discussed above, Jack Del Rio's unit bullied the Cowboys at the line of scrimmage and had no problem infiltrating beyond that.

They also benefitted from some sketchy play calling — that fourth-and-1 call where Andy Dalton used a play action fake to... throw the ball to no one? was quite interesting — and, obviously, from Dalton and, later, Ben DiNucci running the show instead of Dak Prescott.

Still, Washington's defense didn't have any coverage breakdowns (something they've struggled with all year), tackled very well from the beginning to the end and limited the Cowboys to a 25-percent success rate on third down. Cole Holcomb was a force at linebacker and the secondary quieted a really dangerous trio of receivers.

Therefore, the answer here is a little bit from Column A and a little bit from Column B. They need to prove they can pressure better QBs and better lines, but there's also reason to be encouraged by what some individuals did and the overall tidiness of the afternoon. 

Was this more about Washington being good or Dallas being a disaster?: Both (that's lame, but it's also true).