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Redskins close out Cowboys

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Redskins close out Cowboys

Arlington, Texas -

In summary: In a span of only six days, the Redskins ascended from afterthought to second place in the NFC East. 

And, all of a sudden, talk of a second half run to the postseason no longer sounds so farfetched. In fact, if the Giants lose to Packers on Sunday, the Redskins will play New York for first place in the NFC East on Monday NIght football 11 days from now.

Crazy? Robert Griffin III doesn't think so.

“It feels as if something is building,” Griffin III said after another spectacular outing. “Being 3-6, the character of your team is tested. If you don’t beat the Eagles, you’re 3-7 and you’re likely to kill your season or the morale of your team. Then we come out on Thanksgiving and really dominate the game, let [the Cowboys] back in and close it out. It was big for the mindset of everybody.”

“Hey,” he added, “We might have thought we could do it. Now we know we can do it and it’s in our hands.”

Click here for my Instant Analysis from Thursday's 38-31 triumph, then come back for 10 more notes, quotes and observations from Cowboys Stadium:

Turning point: With the Redskins ahead 21-3 late in the second quarter, cornerback DeAngelo Hall picked off Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo and returned the ball 27 yards to the Dallas 33 yard line. Four plays later, Robert Griffin III found Santana Moss for a scintillating six-yard touchdown that put the visitors firmly in control, 28-3, with five seconds remaining before halftime.

“This game is all about opportunities,” Moss said. “When you get turnovers, you have to capitalize.”

Offensive play of the game: Trailing 3-0 early in the first half, the Redskins struck on another long-range pass. Griffin tossed a bomb to Aldrick Robinson, who hauled the ball in for a 68-yard touchdown – four days after the duo hooked up on a 49-yarder against the Eagles.

Interestingly, Robinson had been whistled for a false start on the previous play. But instead of scrapping the call, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan just flipped alignment. 

“RG3 gave me a great ball,” Robinson said. “Once I saw where he threw it, I knew I had to put my burners on to the play the ball. I ran as fast as I could and got it.”

Defensive play of the game: Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, the Cowboys were on the move when Romo fired a ball over the middle to Dez Bryant. Bryant made a nice catch, but cornerback Josh Wilson put his helmet on the ball as he went for the tackle, dislodging it and causing a fumble. 

Safety DeJon Gomes recovered the fumble and took it 13 yards to the Cowboys’ 49. Seven plays later, Alfred Morris scored from one yard out to stretch the Redskins’ lead to 14-3. It was Morris’ first touchdown in six games.

Special teams play of the game: Midway through the fourth quarter, Kai Forbath thought the game might come down to a field goal – and it pretty much did. His 48-yarder with 3:03 remaining gave the Redskins a 10-point cushion.

It was Forbath’s first field goal of the day and made him 10 for 10 on the season.

“I tried not to thing about the situation,” he said. “I had a great warmup today and it was our first field goal of the day. But that’s part of the job, to go in there in the fourth quarter when you haven’t kicked one yet and we got it done today.”

Injury report: London Fletcher said he played as long as his ailing left ankle would let him. But after tweaking it for the second time in the fourth quarter, he told the coaching staff that he had become a liability. 

“Everything seems better when you win,” said Fletcher, who sprained the ankle against the Eagles and did not practice all week. “Injuries heal up a lot faster when you win.”

Fletcher also praised Keenan Robinson, who took his spot at inside linebacker. The 37-year-old captain also said he’s fortunate the Redskins now have 11 days until hosting the Giants.

…Linebacker Chris Wilson tweaked his hamstring but returned. He doesn’t believe the injury is serious.

Quote of the day: Hall on sliding at the Cowboys’ two-yard line instead of scoring in the game’s final seconds: “As big of a selfish guy as y’all think I am …” he cracked, making fun of his sometimes contentious relationship with the media. Hall and the reporters who surrounded him laughed. 

Quote of the day, Part II: Griffin on the standout play of his wide receivers: “I told those guys if they ball out like they have been, we can’t be stopped. I was sitting there having a conversation with Trent [Williams] as Pierre [Garçon] was running on his long touchdown. I was like, ‘Man, that was a great catch.’” 

Game ball: Griffin gets it. Morris was very good, running for 113 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. But Griffin stole the show – again. He was 20 of 28 for 311 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. In the past two games, he has tossed eight touchdowns.

“We’ve been able to hit the big plays more so that we were earlier in the year,” Griffin said. “You get more comfortable in the system, more comfortable with the guys around you. Everybody’s clicking at this point and we’re clicking at the right time.”

By the numbers: Griffin is the first Redskins’ quarterback to pass for four touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He’s also the first rookie to have more than one four touchdown performance in the same season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

By the numbers, Part II: With his third quarter interception, Fletcher became only the third active player to have 20 interceptions and 30 sacks. Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher are the others. 

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Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

Week 6's Redskins game marked another successful celebration of the THINK-PINK! campaign

During the Redskins-Panthers Week 6 matchup, the FedEx Field end zones ditched their usual gold trim for some pink instead. As it turns out, burgundy and pink go quite well together.

The reason for the change was to celebrate the Redskins Breast Cancer Awareness game as well as the 20th anniversary of Tanya Snyder's THINK-PINK! campaign.

Mrs. Snyder started the movement two decades ago by passing out 8,000 handmade pink ribbons at the team's stadium meant to remind people that early detection of breast cancer can make a major difference.

Now, her campaign has gone league-wide and is the reason you see so many players wearing pink in October, fans waving pink towels in the stands and other awareness-raising initiatives throughout the NFL.

"Very, very, very proud," Snyder said while handing out ribbons before the Washington-Carolina game. "We're not finished, but we are making a difference with early detection. So I'm beaming." 

For more information on Snyder and the NFL's breast cancer efforts, head to redskins.com/thinkpink. And for more details about the events held at FedEx Field during Week 6, check out the video above.

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Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

Redskins need a winning streak to convince legion of skeptics

If you want to, you can find plenty of things wrong with the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers. The home team was up 17-0 in the second quarter and yet had to hang on as the Panthers reached the red zone with a chance to win in the last minute. The game got tight because the Redskins continued their second-half scoring problems, putting up just six points. Alex Smith passed for just 153 yards. 

But you can’t poke holes in the fact that the Redskins are 3-2 and in first place in the NFC East. Sure, there is a long way to go. But consider this—a Redskins schedule that looked rough at the beginning of the season doesn’t look quite as tough. In fact, right now the Redskins have a better winning percentage than any team they will play in their remaining 11 games. 

Yes, that’s right. They have six games to play in the division, two each against the Cowboys and Eagles, both now 3-3, and the 1-5 Giants. Their two remaining games against the NFC South are against the 2-3 Bucs and the 2-4 Falcons. The schedule is rounded out with games against three AFC South teams, the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars. All three of those teams are tied atop the division at 3-3. 

Of course, you can’t expect all of these teams to still be wallowing around .500 when they face the Redskins. It looks like the Eagles and Falcons are on the upswing and in today’s NFL any team can get hot at any time. 

And, as the Redskins demonstrated in their Week 2 loss to the Colts, they are capable of losing to a weak team. They still have plenty of issues they have to correct if they plan on maintaining their winning record and staying in contention for the division title. They won’t survive if they continue to have difficulty scoring in the second half (their only second-half TD this season came in garbage time against the Saints). They need to get more sacks from Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith, who have one combined. Plenty of details need to be ironed out. 

But the fact that they are a flawed team doesn’t take away from the fact that they got a quality win over the Panthers. Carolina was 3-1, coming off of an 11-5 playoff season. On top of that, the Redskins had not beaten the Panthers since 2006, a stretch that included an 0-4 record against Cam Newton. They didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this year and they got a season-high three takeaways. Christian McCaffrey came into the game averaging 83 yards per game and left it averaging 70 after picking up 20 yards on eight carries. 

With all of that said, the Redskins still have to overcome their inconsistency. They have won two games in a row just twice since the beginning of the 2017 season. Nobody is going to believe that anything is different about the Redskins until they can string together three or four wins in a row. Until then, skepticism will abound. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler is locked into the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler