The Redskins fell to the Cowboys 31-23 but the final score doesn't tell the whole truth. Washington kept the game close for about 40 minutes, but then an inability to make simple tackles led to three straight Dallas scores.
The loss means a lot, as Dallas is now tied with Washington for first place in the NFC East.
There's plenty to unpack.
1. Starts on the ground: The Cowboys offense centers on star running back Ezekiel Elliott. In a Redskins victory against Dallas last month, the defense limited Elliott to 33 yards, a true triumph. In this game, Elliott could not be stopped. Through the third quarter, he had rushed for nearly 100 yards and was averaging nearly 6 yards-per-carry. When Elliott gets going, the Cowboys get going.
2. The Trade Worked: Jerry Jones positioned his team without any real talent at wide receiver to start the season. It was a real problem. Then, before the trade deadline, Dallas traded for Amari Cooper, giving up a first-round pick in the process. The trade got lampooned for Dallas giving up too much, but against the Redskins, Cooper was well worth the heavy price.
The former University of Alabama star proved just too slippery for the Redskins secondary and grabbed eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Seriously, look at that stat line: 8/180/2. That's Moss-ian. Cooper opened up the game and forced Washington's defensive game plan to focus on him, which helped Zeke run.
3. No Turkeys: Coming into the contest, Dallas lost every game they had a turnover. That trend held, as the Cowboys won and didn't have any turnovers. The Redskins, on the other hand, had lots. Colt McCoy threw three interceptions and had a number of other balls that Cowboys players had a chance to grab. More on Colt later.
The Redskins defense has thrived in creating takeaways, and the team could have really used one on Thanksgiving in Dallas.
4. Higher Highs, Lower Lows: Going from Alex Smith to Colt McCoy was going to be an adjustment for the Redskins offense. Smith was a very reliable, smart player. He rarely made mistakes but he rarely made big plays either. McCoy is very, very different. In just his first start of the year, he connected with Vernon Davis on a 53-yard touchdown.
That play immediately became the Redskins longest pass of the year. But the picks were bad, and if Josh Doctson didn't turn into a safety on one pass, McCoy would have had four INTs. McCoy moves the ball well in the Redskins offense, but at times he also tries things he shouldn't. He also had a fumble on a sack, but the Redskins recovered.
5. One Piece of Pie: How about a little good news? There was some. Trey Quinn made some big plays and had a really good punt return. Preston Smith had a monster game and the pass rush got good pressure on Dak Prescott. Tress Way just keeps balling. Jordan Reed again went for 60+ yards. For 40 minutes, this looked like a good game for Washington, and plenty of players had a part in it.
Those guys deserve some credit.
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