The helmets they wore were the same. The personnel they used was largely the same.
But the Redskins' defense's effectiveness in their two games against the Cowboys this year was not the same. At all.
In Washington's Week 7 win over Dallas, the Burgundy and Gold stifled Ezekiel Elliott, forced two turnovers and tackled extremely well throughout.
The showing was so strong that afterward, DJ Swearinger was asking his teammates to try and emulate the 2000 Ravens, a team with one of the most feared defenses in the history of football.
But just a month later in their Thanksgiving loss at AT&T Stadium, Greg Manusky's unit hardly displayed any of the traits that were present throughout the group just 30 days ago.
Elliott finished the day with 121 yards and had no problem finding open lanes at the line of scrimmage.
There were plenty of turnovers, meanwhile — but the Redskins were the ones giving the ball up, not forcing them.
And when it comes to their tackling? It would've been questionable for flag football, let alone an NFL primetime contest.
Just like everything else between the two efforts, Swearinger's mood following the second was the opposite of his mood following the first.
"We lose two games in a row because of the defense," the safety said. "You wanna be a championship defense, you gotta hold that weight on your back."
"When you've got teams that can play with you, you gotta prepare," he continued. "You gotta tackle. You gotta do the simple things right. If you don't do the simple things right, you're gonna get embarrassed on national TV."
At 6-5 with five weeks to go, the Redskins are still very much involved in the NFC playoff picture and the division race. Looking at that is a reason for optimism.
But there are also many reasons for concern, including imporant ones such as the recent QB change and the running game really tailing off. However, the defense's decline is the most worrisome.
Aside from a collapse in New Orleans, that side of the ball suffocated opposing RBs and limited game-breaking plays during the first half of 2018.
Yet since then, the Falcons registered 38 points, the Bucs racked up 500 total yards, the Texans left FedEx Field with 139 rushing yards and the Cowboys, namely Elliott, Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott, broke free basically whenever they wanted to.
"We gotta be better if we wanna win," Jonathan Allen said flatly. "I say 'consistency' is the word."
Whatever the word is, the Redskins need to identify it during this layoff before they visit the Eagles for a Dec. 3 Monday night game.
If they're tired, this will be the time to rest. If they're serious about correcting their tackling, this will be the time to address it. If they need to self-scout and figure out why they're all of the sudden so vulnerable against the run, this will be the time to tighten up.
It's simple: Whether this edition of the Redskins ends up in the postseason or not will largely fall on if the defense can stop their slump.
If they're able to return to the level they were at the first time they squared off with the Cowboys, then there's hope. But if they keep playing the way they did on Thanksgiving, a once promising year will end the way so many others in the past have.
There was a time not long ago when Swearinger was talking about the 2000s Ravens. Unfortunately, things are trending in the direction of the 2000s Redskins.
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