DALLAS--My five observations on Cowboys 31, Redskins 26:
—If the Redskins either miss the postseason or if they are one and done due to a bad seed they can point to their lack of red zone productivity as a main reason. They were four of five scoring touchdowns here last week but just two for five today and the second came in desperation time. That will keep them near the bottom of the league in red zone efficiency. Both of their losses to the Cowboys came after failing to get it done down close.
—Earlier in his career Jordan Reed had something of a reputation for being “soft”, for not playing through injuries that others would have toughed out. That word should never be associated with him after this game. He went out in the first half with a shoulder sprain. His return looked very questionable for a while but he returned in the second half. At first it looked like he might just serve as a decoy but then Kirk Cousins started throwing the ball to him. After catching just two passes for 15 yards in the first half, Reed finished with 10 catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He was in considerable pain after the game and his situation will bear watching. But it was a big-time guts performance on his part.
—Rob Kelley was due for a subpar game and he had it today. He had just 37 yards on 14 carries with a long run of eight yards. Jay Gruden said that Kelley did not have tired legs but a rookie who didn’t get many carries in college had to have been feeling the effects of two games in four days. It will be a big game for him in Arizona. Two games in a row like that would have to coaches looking to make changes.
—The defense played about as well as expected against the powerful and efficient Dallas offense, which is to say not too well. Ezekiel Elliott did run wild but his 97 rushing yards on 20 carries were enough to keep the chains moving. Dak Prescott threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and he didn’t even come close to an interception except on one tipped ball. To be fair, the defense twice had to deal with short fields, once after a failed surprise onside kick attempt and once after a long field goal miss by Dustin Hopkins. Dallas drove for touchdowns both times. But, as Donte Whitner pointed out, the defense had a chance to give the team a boost by forcing three and outs and didn’t get it done.
—Kirk Cousins threw for 449 yards and three touchdowns. But the red zone issue fall at least partially into his lap. Sometimes it seems like he is still spooked by the red zone interception he threw against Dallas in Week 2. Like so many other elements of the team, he is on the verge of being very good but with too many holes to quite get there.