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Five observations from the tie between the Redskins and Bengals

Five observations from the tie between the Redskins and Bengals

LONDON—Here are my five main observations from Redskins 27, Bengals 27:

—It’s tough to rely on kickers. The Seahawks and Cardinals learned it last week in their tie and the Redskins learned it today after the Dustin Hopkins missed a 34-yard field goal that would have won the game in overtime. For that matter, neither kicker was that reliable today. Mike Nugent missed a long but makeable 52-yard field goal attempt and an extra point. Besides his overtime miss Hopkins was short on a 55-yard try at the end of the first half. Perhaps the soccer turf here at Wembley Stadium is not suited well to kicking an oblong ball.

—Regardless of the chance to win it at the end, the Redskins took the tie as a loss. The thought was that they came out here to win and they didn’t do that. They could eventually end up being very glad they didn’t lose the game since a tie hurts them less in the division and wild card standings than a loss would have. But for right now, they fell short of their goal.

—Kirk Cousins deserves to get paid. He played a great game in almost every aspect but the fact that it wasn’t a win. He passed for 458 yards, completing 68 percent of his passes at 8.2 yards per attempt. His one interception really didn’t matter, a long pass on third and long that essentially amounted to a punt. I don’t know where the Redskins are going to find a better option at the position. And good ones cost big money.

—Jamison Crowder gets better and better every week. He went for 107 yards on nine receptions today. His effort to cover the last 12 yards on his 33-yard touchdown catch was excellent.

—The defense could have been better. The team’s streak of holding opponents to 20 or fewer points in games ended at four. Josh Norman had two hands on two Andy Dalton passes and he couldn’t make the catch on either one. Still, they made some plays with Will Compton coming up with what possibly was a game-saving interception in the red zone in the fourth quarter and they stripped Dalton on a quarterback sneak with a minute left in overtime to give the Redskins one last-gasp chance for a win.

—Rob Kelley started off slowly. At halftime he had 10 carries for 29 yards, an average of 2.9 yards per carry. But it was a different story in the second half as he carried 11 times for 58 yards, an average of 5.3 yards a pop. He ran hard; he saved the best for last, getting 16 yards in overtime to set up a short field goal try for Hopkins. It will be interesting to see how things sort out when Matt Jones is ready to play. I think Jones still will start but it will be hard not to give Kelley a lot of touches.

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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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Redskins-Cowboys Week 7 preview: A storyline, a stat and a player to watch

Redskins-Cowboys Week 7 preview: A storyline, a stat and a player to watch

This Sunday, for the 117th time, the Redskins and Cowboys will meet. 

Dallas will bring its 3-3 record into FedEx Field and face off with a 3-2 Washington squad. The winner of the contest will guarantee themselves a share of the NFC East lead heading into Week 8.

Here's a storyline, stat and player to watch for the next installment of this rivalry. Once you're done reading those, you can officially start preparing yourself for some sketchy fourth down decisions by Jason Garrett. 

Biggest storyline

Since his tidy but effective game vs. the Packers, Alex Smith turned in a disconcerting performance in New Orleans and a lukewarm effort (albeit a winning one) against the Panthers. Overall, Smith has looked very in control at times but also uneasy and ineffective at others so far in 2018.

So, the biggest storyline in this edition of the series has to do with Smith. If this game calls for it, can he lead the 'Skins to a victory?

That could be difficult vs. the Cowboys. The QB will be without Jamison Crowder again, and on Friday, Jay Gruden listed Paul Richardson as doubtful. Chris Thompson, meanwhile, is questionable.

So, it's likely Smith will be without two of his most talented weapons and possible that he'll be missing three. And on top of that, he'll be operating behind an offensive line that's had issues, which is contributing to his sometimes shaky feet in the pocket.  

To make things even harder, the Dallas defense allows the second-fewest points-per-game in the league and boasts a defensive line that Gruden is very worried about because it employs a scheme that involves a lot of movement. The Colts D-line uses a lot of stunts and movement, too, and they held the 'Skins to just 9 points in Week 2.

Smith has yet to top 300 yards this season or throw for more than two touchdowns in a single outing. He's had no problem winning when the team jumps to an early lead and the running game is going, sure, but he can't count on that each time he starts. 

At some point, his right arm is going to have to be mainly responsible for a Redskins W. And there'd be no better time for that to happen than in his first shot against his new franchise's most-hated opponent.

One key stat

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott don't know what it's like to play an NFL game vs. Washington and leave that game as the loser. Prescott is 4-0 in his four starts, while Elliott suited up in three of those triumphs. 

Elliott has been a big-time problem for the Redskins in their run-ins. The RB has scored five times against the burgundy and gold and averages 110 yards per appearance. 

Come Sunday around 7:30 or 8 p.m., when Elliott's day is done, odds are you'll be able to look at his stat line and judge the outcome of the game solely based on it.

If Greg Manusky and his defense, particularly his young stars up front, are able to bottle up Zeke, you have to like the Redskins' chances of beating the Cowboys for the first time since the 2015 season finale.

The Redskin to watch

Charley Casserly identified Fabian Moreau as a key Redskin for Week 7 (full video above). Another one worth watching is DJ Swearinger.

Swearinger terrorized Cam Newton last week and really flew around the entire field. He'll need to be as active against the Cowboys and, most importantly, be a sure tackler.

Elliott is going to churn out a few seven- and eight-yard runs. It'll be on Swearinger, plus fellow safety Montae Nicholson, to not let those become 20- or 30-yard gains. 

A lot of the attention, and deservedly so, will go toward what Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are doing on Sunday. But if Swearinger can take smart angles, get Elliott to the ground and make a few plays in pass coverage, that'll go a long way vs. a limited Dallas offense.

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