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Five observations from the Redskins' gutsy 20-17 win over the Cowboys

Five observations from the Redskins' gutsy 20-17 win over the Cowboys

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. 

Honorable Mention:

  • 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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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Looking for a stat to describe the rough season the Redskins receivers had in 2018? Well, there's tons to choose from.

The team's wideouts had the second-fewest catches of 20-plus yards in the league. Antonio Brown had more grabs, yards and touchdowns than Washington's top three targets combined. Josh Doctson led the squad in receiving yards — with a measly 532.

You could easily find plenty more, but those three are all you need to realize that DK Metcalf should absolutely be on the franchise's mind when it comes to their first-round pick this April.

While Metcalf's numbers at Ole Miss won't overly impress you, his athleticism and potential explosiveness as a pro absolutely does. That's why it's no surprise the WR met with the Redskins while at the Combine, as Jay Gruden and Co. are well aware that they must become more dangerous on the outside.

As with any prospect, there are questions with Metcalf. He only had 67 catches in 21 games in school, and while he shredded most of the drills in Indianapolis, his short area agility numbers were worse than Tom Brady. That's not great.

Regardless, he'd instantly become the offense's scariest athlete, and you have to like his chances of at least contributing splash plays early while he learns the nuances of the NFL.

The 'Skins don't just need improvement out wide, however. Jordan Reed was largely ineffective despite playing for much of 2018, Vernon Davis is 35 years old and Jeremy Sprinkle isn't much of a threat in the air at tight end.

Perhaps TJ Hockenson could be their answer. NFL.com says the Iowa product "is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game." 

One problem the Burgundy and Gold have encountered in recent years is Reed and Davis don't help much as blockers, while Sprinkle won't worry a defense with his hands. Taking Hockenson at pick No. 15 would mean Gruden could finally have a guy who excels in both areas.

It remains to be seen whether Metcalf or Hockenson will last until the Redskins' choice, as they could continue to rise up boards as the draft draws closer. If both or either is there, however, they need to be heavily considered. 

While the offense may have to be run-oriented again in 2019, it still needs more weapons for whoever is under center. They won't be able to grind out 13-play scoring drives every time they need a TD, and grabbing Metcalf or Hockenson would go a long way in introducing a new element to the group.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.

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Five of the most memorable and wild Redskins upsets from the past 10 years

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Five of the most memorable and wild Redskins upsets from the past 10 years

Upsets get a lot of attention in March, due to the allure of the NCAA Tournament and the non-allure of everyone who loves to talk about how THEY CALLED that upset that YOU DIDN'T.

With that being said, upsets happen every month of the year, and they go down weekly in the NFL. So, how about we look back at some of the Redskins' particularly surprising wins from the past decade?

Here are five of the most memorable. 

5) 2014 - Redskins 27, Eagles 24

The Eagles came into FedEx Field late in 2014 with a 9-5 record needing a win to remain squarely in the playoff hunt. The Redskins, meanwhile, were just 3-11 and had changed quarterbacks a depressing five times.

Yet in this matchup, Robert Griffin III managed the offense well and DeSean Jackson had more than 120 receiving yards against his former team because DeSean Jackson is awesome.

Yes, the 'Skins were outproduced in nearly every major stat category. But Mark Sanchez — sorry, future Redskin great Mark Sanchez — had two costly turnovers and Cody Parkey missed two field goals (Philly fans have probably forgiven him by now), allowing the home team to squeak out a W.

4) 2009 - Redskins 27, Broncos 17

This is one of those random Redskins games you've probably forgotten about because it came in a lost season, but it was still a miraculous victory.

The most iconic play from this one was a Hunter Smith to Mike Sellers TD on a fake field goal — a fake, mind you, that came after a timeout by Jim Zorn because the unit's first fake punt attempt included only 10 players on the field.

Denver was 6-2 but lost Kyle Orton to injury at halftime. Jason Campbell, on the other hand, helped the Burgundy and Gold score more than 17 points for the first time all year.

"We've had a desert experience -- very arid, if you will -- for the last few weeks," Zorn said postgame. "So to be able to come out with a win, you almost don't know how to feel."

The Zorn Era was terrible, but you have to give the dude credit for working "very arid" into an NFL press conference.

3) 2012 - Redskins 40, Saints 32

There was plenty of hype surrounding RG3's debut, but there was no way he was going to lead the Redskins to a win over the Saints... in his debut... in the Superdome... right?

Wrong. Incorrect. Not right.

Griffin found Pierre Garcon early for an 88-yard score and the offense stayed hot all afternoon, outpacing a New Orleans squad that was favored by more than a touchdown. If you want a further reminder of how impressive this effort was, look back at what happened to this franchise in the Superdome this past season. 

2) 2014 - Redskins 20, Cowboys 17

Dallas' six-game winning streak stood no chance against Colt McCoy, as the Texas legend went into the Cowboys' house for a wild Monday Night triumph.

Kai Forbath's field goal sealed it in overtime and Bashaud Breeland dominated Dez Bryant, but McCoy was the star. On the way to his first successful start in close to three seasons, the signal caller went 25 for 30 in the air and found the end zone on the ground, too.

1) 2017 - Redskins 17, Seahawks 14

If someone in your life thinks they can't do something, just pull up the box score or highlights from this contest. They will then realize that nothing is impossible, because the Redskins beating the Seahawks on this Sunday should've been impossible, yet it somehow happened anyway.

Washington went into Seattle's harsh environment down six starters, including three on the O-line, but Kirk Cousins kept things together and found Brian Quick and Josh Doctson for long completions on a harrowing last drive to steal this result. It wasn't quite UMBC over Virginia, but it was absolutely a stunning final nonetheless. 

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