Redskins Clipped by Cowboys: Pluses and Minuses
– Brandon Banks’ 55-yard punt return was the longest of his career. His three punt returns for 97 yards helped Washington win the field position battle. Today’s performance was why Banks was kept on the Redskins’ 53-man roster out of training camp. He changed the complexion of today’s game, and he didn’t even have to score a touchdown to do it.
– London Fletcher ages like a lost boy in Neverland. The guy is 36 and he’s still paying like he’s in his prime. Fletcher, who was in a walking-boot to start the week and after the game, gutted his way through a 16-tackle, one-sack, two tackle-for-loss, one forced fumble performance. He was all over the field.
– DeJon Gomes showed well in a 13-tackle performance in his first NFL start. I’m sure he’ll be graded as having made some negative plays, but the mistakes he made were at full speed. He was used in the box quite a bit, which Jim Haslett and the Redskins’ defensive coaching staff should be commended for. Gomes was close to the line of scrimmage extensively, and he helped stuff the run effectively.
– Rex Grossman was far from perfect but he was good enough to give the Redskins a chance to win. Grossman threw for 289 yards and contributed three touchdowns, leading Washington back from two deficits in a losing effort. Washington’s stagnant offense showed some signs of life, racking up 336 yards and scoring 24 points — and Grossman’s ability to spread the ball to eight different receivers was a big reason why.
– The Redskins finally cashed in on their redzone opportunities. Washington went three-for-three in the red area and two-for-two in goal-to-go scenarios.
– Donte’ Stallworth was cut by the Redskins last Tuesday. On Sunday, Stallworth made the most of an opportunity he only got because the Leonard Hankerson suffered a season-ending injury in Miami. The veteran wideout caught four passes for 51 yards, all on the Redskins’ final two drives (in the fourth quarter and overtime). He hauled in a game-tying reception on third-and-goal with 14 seconds left, dragging his feet on a gorgeous reception to send that ultimately sent the game to overtime.
– Graham Gano missed two field goals, including a 52-yard overtime kick that would have snapped Washington’s five-game losing streak. Gano’s other miss, on a 49-yard field goal in regulation, came on the opposite end of the field from where he missed the potential game-winner. He’s now missed eight field goals on the season (three were block).
– The Redskins were minus-two in turnovers, falling to minus-10 in turnover margin on the season. Washington didn’t generate a single takeaway and turned the ball over twice, once on an interception and once on a lost fumble (by Fred Davis). You can’t beat teams that have more talent than you if you are giving them short fields.
– Third down defense was an issue for Washington. Generally a strength, the Redskins struggled to end drives throughout the game. Dallas went 8-for-17 on third down, converting on 47% of their chances including on a third-and-15 in overtime that saw Tony Romo find Dez Bryant for a 26-yard completion.
-Speaking of the 26-yard pass on third down, DeAngelo Hall slipped and fell while trying to defend Bryant. Hall did make 11 tackles in the game but tackle totals for cornerbacks can often be misleading. A lot of times, when a corner is making a ton of stops that means they are giving up too many completions. That was the case on Sunday for Hall, who blamed himself for the loss after the game. Hall even said he would cut himself based on his performance. His candid analysis was excessive. He didn’t play as poorly as he said he did, but he definitely won’t enjoy Monday’s film session.
– The Redskins lost the time of possession battle for the seventh time this season. Washington is 0-7 in those games.
– Washington still can’t run the ball. Kyle Shanahan did a good job sticking to the ground game, even though yardage was tough. He relied on a ‘quantity over quality’ approach to help the Redskins stay balanced offensively, calling 21 rushing plays compared to Grossman’s 38 pass attempts. Ryan Torain gained just four yards on five carries and Tashard Choice netted seven yards on six attempts. In total, the Redskins averaged 2.5 yards per carry.