The game was right there within the Washington Redskins' grasp. The Cowboys are what we thought they were. The game was ours. We should have crowned them, as Dennis Green once eloquently put it. We let them off the hook. It all slipped away.
The game slipped away when the Redskins could not convert an interception on the Dallas 10 to a touchdown, settling instead for a field goal.
It slipped away on Washington's next trip to the red zone (second quarter) when Rex Grossman could not connect to Terrance Austin on third down at the Dallas 18. Everyone will focus on Sav Rocca's misplay of the snap for the failed field goal attempt. That was bad. Much worse was the failure to convert the third down while deep in Dallas Territory on the previous play.
Washington had 20 first downs in this game, but could convert only three of 13 third downs. Dallas had a similar performance. Kudos to the defense. Offense had the chance to be the difference-maker by converting more third downs. One more third down conversion per game can be the difference in the season.
It slipped away when DeMarcus Ware found more success against Jammal Brown than against Trent Williams.
It slipped away when the defense could not take advantage field position after a 54-yard Sav Rocket punt (one-yard return) to prevent the Cowboys' ensuing drive to the Washington 5 for a field goal.
Holding the Cowboys to a field goal hardly makes up for the break down that allowed a Felix Jones 40 yard romp on the drive. Washington entered the game with the eighth-ranked defense, but could not stop Dallas on the ground in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys rushed for 115 yards. They averaged 54 yards per game up to last night.
"Not very good." ~ Steve Spurrier
YET, our 'Skins put up a whale of a fight and scared the bejeebus out of the Cowboys in their house. There are no moral victories in pro football. A game that should have been won was lost instead. That is a different statement than they beat you. Correctable things we did lost it.
Washington had a game to give. The Redskins are locked in a three-way tie for division first place...and nobody finds that odd. They are in the postseason conversation. So much so, that the experts at NFL.com ranked the Redskins higher than they ranked the Cowboys and Giants in their Week Three power poll. (Not so on the Bloguin Power Poll)
Your Redskins Hog Heaven analysts figured the Redskins to split the Cowboys series. Even with slippage in play last night, I did not see anything to make me think we could not beat Dallas in November.
They are what we thought they were....
With the game on the line in the fourth quarter, I would rather have the ball in Tony Romo's hands than any other quarterback in the division.
Here's the set up. Fourth quarter, third and 21 at the Dallas 30--the Redskins bring a full house blitz and do not get to Romo who completed a 30-yard pass to Dez Bryant who is covered by DeAngelo Hall. A facemask penalty on Hall puts the ball on Washington's 25. The Cowboys scored the winning field goal four plays later.
Hall would later complain about the play call and the penalty. There is a point about the call, but not the one Hall makes. When a team rushes eight men on third-and-deep, you have to get to the quarterback or force a bad throw. I loved this call for that down and distance. Romo defeated the play. That is another way of saying the 'Skins front seven and coverage (Hall) didn't get it done.
Cornerbacks are on an island on that play, meaning he is on man-to-man coverage. Hall's priorities are to defend the pass, make the stop, and make an interception. He did not defend the pass. He made the stop, but also made a costly infraction--a facemask penalty that would have been "inadvertent" for a five-yard penalty last season. This season, all facemask penalties cost you 15 yards.
If Hall has a beef, it is with the man in the mirror, not with DC Jim Haslett's call or referee's penalty assessment. I am sure Mike Shanahan told him that today.
UPDATE: ESPN blogger Dan Graziano writes that Hall met with coach Shanahan and DC Jim Haslett Wednesday and "came away understanding why Haslett called for an all-out blitz on third-and-21 late in Monday night's 18-16 loss. Hall also says he needs to watch what he says now that he's a team captain." Read the full story here.
Given his chance, Rex Grossman did not do what Romo did--put his team in position to win. His night ended the way his Washington run began in Detroit last season, with a fumble. That is why Tony Romo is the toast of the NFL today and Rex Grossman is not.
Grossman's and Romo's stats last night were near identical. Romo did not throw a touchdown pass like Grossman. Grossman lost a fumble. Romo did not. Grossman will end the season with the best numbers of his career. He stats are averaging down as the season progresses. Grossman is now ranked the 16th in passing with a QB rating of 86.4. He should finish the season ranked around 20th.
It only took one loss, a close one at that, for callers to sports talk radio to demand John Beck at quarterback.