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5 things we learned from Washington's 19-16 loss to Dallas

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5 things we learned from Washington's 19-16 loss to Dallas

Five things we learned from Cowboys 19, Redskins 16

1) Winning the turnover battle doesn’t mean that much to this team

The Redskins got three takeaways from the Cowboys and turned them into a grand total of three points. Their only giveaway by the Redskins was fatal as DeSean Jackson’s fumbled punt return set up the go-ahead touchdown in the late going for the Cowboys.

2) This team can battle back

Twice in their seven losses they fell behind in the last two minutes but rallied to tie the game. Tonight they tied it up with 44 seconds left but lost on a last-second field goal. In Atlanta they had a lightning-quick drive to a tying field goal at the end of regulation but lost in overtime.

MORE REDSKINS: JACKSON TAKES BLAME FOR FUMBLE ON PUNT RETURN VS. COWBOYS

3) Mason Foster was quite a find

He didn’t come on board until the end of September and he only played a handful of snaps on defense prior to this game. But he played well with seven tackles, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. With Perry Riley out at least another two weeks Foster’s play will be critical.

4) Dustin Hopkins is human

He missed a 43-yard fourth-quarter field goal attempt wide right and his last kickoff was very returnable for Lucky Whitehead, who ran it back 46 yards. That gave the Cowboys a short field to navigate to set up the winning field goal. He has been a big asset and he remains an important cog going forward.

5) The Redskins still control their playoff destiny

Even though they blew a golden opportunity to seize control of the NFC East tonight they still will win the division if they win out and probably will win it if they win three of four.

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With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

The Redskins got going quickly on offense against the Packers on Sunday. They scored in four plays the first time they had the ball. After a three and out they drove to another touchdown. In the second quarter they embarked on the longest touchdown drive they have had since 1999, a 98-yard march. By the time halftime came they had scored 28 points. 

That’s great but that four touchdowns are not always enough to beat an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. In 2016, the last season that Rodgers played all 16 games, Green Bay averaged 27 points per game. Basically, no lead is safe. 

But Jay Gruden played it very safe with the offensive play calling in the second half. Alex Smith, who was on fire in the first half, attempted only five passes in the last 30 minutes. They had 57 yards rushing in the second half, 32 of which came on the Redskins final possession when they drove for a field goal, their only points of the final two quarters. 

It was a similar performance to their season opener against the Cardinals when they were up 21-0 at halftime and then posted just a field goal in the second quarter. 

While the lack of offense in the second half of the Redskins’ two wins has been a talking point among fans and in the media, the key point is that both games turned out in the Redskins’ favor. They now have a defense that Gruden can trust to hold a lead. 

In Arizona, the Redskins defense gave up a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but the lead was never in danger. On Sunday, a fourth-down stop and a takeaway kept the Packers game from ever getting to be a one-score game. 

In the second halves of their three games, including the Week 2 loss to the Colts, the Redskins have given up an average of 147 yards and seven points. It’s a small sample size but so far, they are doing a good job of shutting the door. 

Another thing the Redskins have been doing well defensively is preventing big plays. The longest play against them was the 64-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Packers. Other than that, they have given up just four plays that gained over 20 yards and none longer than 27 yards. 

They are second in total defense. They are giving up a miniscule 4.3 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, a full two yards less than the league average. If you prefer to use the more traditional passer rating stat, opponents have compiled a 77.0, well below the league aggregate rating of 91.2. Again, it’s early but this is a good start. 

The Washington defense will need to keep it going the next two weeks. First up after the bye is Drew Brees of the Saints, who is healthy and completing over 80 percent of his passes. New Orleans also has running back Alvin Kamara, one of the best two-way threats in the game. After that is Cam Newton of the Panthers, who the Redskins never have beaten, and his dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey. 

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NFC East Update: Eagles, Redskins separate from Cowboys, Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

NFC East Update: Eagles, Redskins separate from Cowboys, Giants

The season remains young, but a clear declination appears to be forming in the NFC East. The Redskins and Eagles boast capable offenses, and the Giants and Cowboys do not. 

With the Redskins getting the first bye of the division this week, records going forward will not reflect the same number of games played. In a way, that means this could be the most fair comparison for some time of the four NFC East squads. Let's get to it:

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)

The big news on Broad Street wasn't that the Eagles got a Week 3 win, but rather the successful return of QB Carson Wentz. He played fine in the 20-16 win over the Colts, not great, but having the gifted young passer back on the field for the first time since a 2017 knee injury provides a big boost for the Eagles.

Philly also piled up more than 150 rush yards in their Week 3 win while holding the Colts running backs to less than 40 yards on the ground. That's the Eagles formula to stack up wins.

Up next: Sept. 30th @ Tennessee

Washington Redskins (2-1)

Talk about a big rebound. The Redskins dominated the first half of play against Green Bay and finished with a double digit win over the Packers. In their two wins, the Redskins have looked like one of the best squads in the NFL. Unfortunately, the ugly loss to Indianapolis sits in the middle.

Still, with the Redskins on a bye for Week 4, fans should be quite encouraged with the state of their team. Adrian Peterson looks to have plenty left in the tank and questions about Alex Smith's ability to find his wideouts seem overblown. Defensively, a young, ferocious group of linemen appear to be the best the team has had in a long time. The offensive line is banged up, and the bye will be quite useful for that group. Of the NFC East teams, the Redskins have the best point differential at +20, which happens with two double digit wins.

Up next: Oct. 8th @ New Orleans

Dallas Cowboys (1-2)

Through three weeks, the Cowboys offense is terrible. Dallas ranks 30th in points-per-game and 31st in yard-per-game. There are only 32 teams. The pass game is killing the Cowboys, as Dak Prescott is averaging less than 150 pass yards per game. That's real bad, but it's not all his fault.

Dallas cut Dez Bryant in the offseason and did nothing to address his absence. The defense is active and physical up front, but in the NFL, teams need to score points. Right now, it's unclear if Dallas will be able to at a reasonable level. 

Up next: Sept. 30th vs Detroit

New York Giants (1-2)

The only team with a division loss, the Giants logged a surprise good win in Week 3 in Houston. Not quite as bad as Dallas on offense, the Giants merely rank in the bottom third of the league in total yards and points-per-game.

Despite the emergence of rookie Saquon Barkley, the Giants are averaging just 87 yards-per-game on the ground. The biggest problem for Big Blue remains the offensive line, and don't expect it to get much better this year. 

Up next: Sept. 30th vs New Orleans

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