A streak ended Sunday as the Redskins beat the Cowboys 20-17 in thrilling fashion. Late in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys back up near their goal line, Ryan Kerrigan got a sack and strip on Dak Prescott. His battery mate Preston Smith grabbed the ball and walked into the end zone for the touchdown.
The Cowboys had a chance to send the game into overtime, but a 52-yard attempt from Brett Maher bounced off the left upright, giving the Redskins the victory.
Washington had lost their last four contests against Dallas, and the win puts the team securely in first place of the NFC East with a 4-2 record.
How did it shake out? Here are five observations:
Five Observations from Redskins vs. Cowboys
1. Winning With Defense
The key to beating Dallas is to limit their ground game, and it worked for Washington, Ezekiel Elliott had just 13 rush yards in the first half, the second fewest of his career.
He finished with 35 yards and his lack of success forced the Cowboys to try and win with Prescott throwing the ball. It didn't work. Prescott finished with 273 pass yards, but most of it came on a few big chunk plays, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to end the first half.
2. All day, Seriously
The Redskins offense is entirely reliant on Adrian Peterson. That was not the plan this offseason, but through seven weeks of the NFL season, it's working out fairly well. Peterson finished the game with 99 rush yards and is only a few yards behind ninth-place Tony Dorsett on the NFL's all-time rushing record. Peterson has shown that any suggestion he had lost a step at age 33 is simply naive.
He has the vision and strength to break tackles, almost at will.
3. Ugly Third
The Redskins defensive front played a tremendous game, and the third quarter was the best example. The Cowboys offense ran six plays in the third quarter and gained only four yards. Kerrigan landed his first Prescott sack near his own end zone, and the interior defensive line of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis smothered Ezekiel Elliott.
4. Close But No Paydirt
The Redskins have a real problem, and it's called scoring touchdowns. On Sunday, that did not bite them against the offensively challenged Cowboys, but eventually, it will be a problem. Dustin Hopkins kicked field goals of 21 and 25 yards, which means the offense is sputtering in goal-to-go situations. Think about this way: Preston Smith has more second-half touchdowns this season than Alex Smith.
The Washington QB played fine, but not good, again. He did throw a first-half TD to Kapri Bibbs, and maybe more importantly, had no turnovers.
5. Walk It Like You Talk It
D.J. Swearinger and Zach Brown talked throughout the week leading up the game that the Redskins must deliver consistent performances to be taking seriously as a contender. Both players delivered. Swearinger forced a fumble, and recovered the ball, in the first half and Brown led the game with nine tackles.
Brown's lateral speed was on display throughout the contest and paired with Mason Foster, the front seven played a stout game. Washington gave up just two big bulk plays, both in the pass game, that accounted for most of the Dallas offensive production.
- The Redskins won in Week 6 against the Panthers because they forced three turnovers and played good defense. That formula worked again on Sunday, as the defense forced two turnovers and gave up just 10 points.
- Don't look now but the Redskins special teams are balling, again. Punter Tress Way played a great game, and in a field position battle, he was vital. Often kicking on a short field, Way never kicked a ball into the end zone and repeatedly pinned the Cowboys inside their own 20. Against an offense as incapable as the Cowboys, that kind of performance on special teams goes a long way.
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