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Three Keys: Redskins at Cowboys

by Grant Paulsen
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Grant Paulsen is the Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan and...
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Grant Paulsen, Washington Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan, offers the three keys he thinks are most important for Robert Griffin III and Co. in their quest for a road win against the Dallas Cowboys tonight.

Generate takeaways

Washington won both of its meetings with Dallas last season, thanks largely to five interceptions of Tony Romo. The Redskins tallied six takeaways in the two victories, amassing a +5 margin in turnovers in the season series.

The Cowboys are going to move the ball successfully against Washington’s porous passing defense. The Redskins’ best chance to keep the game close will be to make sure they change the game with a few momentum-capturing plays. If a ball is in the air near one of Washington’s defenders, they need to come down with it.

‘Almost’ making a play isn’t good enough in tonight’s game.

Make a play on special teams

Through four games Washington’s specialists have yet to impact a game with a prolific play.

The Redskins rank 17th in the NFL in kickoff return average and 16th in punt return average.

Chris Thompson’s seven punt returns have totaled 36 yards, and he’s yet to break a punt return for more than nine yards. Josh Morgan has taken over as the team’s kick-returner, but he’s been unable to provide a spark in his very limited (two attempts) opportunities to bring a kick out of the endzone.

Washington, which had a punt-block result in an Oakland touchdown in Week 4, can’t afford any major negative plays on special teams. The Redskins will have enough problems keeping Dallas’ offense out of the endzone.

Get Alfred Morris going

Alfred Morris rushed for 113 and 200 yards in the Redskins’ two wins over the Cowboys in 2012. He was the single most influential offensive weapon in Washington’s sweep of Dallas last season.

His 24 attempts in Dallas on Thanksgiving day and 33 rushes at FedEx Field in a Week 17 victory helped the Redskins to manipulate the tempo of the game, prohibiting the Cowboys from luring Washington into a shootout that required both teams to sling the ball on every down.

Dallas wants the Redskins to get into a game similar to last week’s classic in Denver — a contest that saw the Cowboys and Denver Broncos combine for over 900 passing yards and 99 points. That’s not the type of game the Redskins want to play.

Feeding Morris, who has yet to compile more than 16 rushing attempts in any game this season, will go a long way toward dictating the type of game the Redskins want to play.

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