All the momentum generated from the Thanksgiving Day win over the New York Giants fizzled as Washington failed to rise to the occasion and lost 38-14 to the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night. The loss all but eliminates the Redskins from the postseason. Sitting at 5-7, head coach Jay Gruden and company would need to win out and still get some help in order to qualify for the playoffs.
The win was the first for the Cowboys since losing star running back Ezekiel Elliott to a six-game suspension. Quarterback Dak Prescott, who had been in a serious funk over the last several weeks, finally got himself right. Prescott didn’t have great numbers – 11-for-22 for 102 yards – but he did throw for two touchdowns and he didn’t make many mistakes. Prescott was sacked just once and didn’t commit a turnover.
Gruden thought his team was ready to play but just couldn’t make plays when they were needed. “I wouldn’t say we weren’t ready to play,” Gruden said. “I think, one, they made a couple plays, and, two, we didn’t make the plays we normally make.”
For the Redskins, it was a game filled with mistakes. Quarterback Kirk Cousins looked impressive at times and did finish the game having completed 26-of-37 passes for 251 and two touchdowns. However, Cousins was sacked four times and threw two interceptions. That was not all. Cousins also fumbled twice losing one of them.
“It was just miscues,” said Cousins. “A dropped ball here, we had a nice drive down the field the second drive, just a tough turnover, and then it was one thing after another that were just mistakes. They happen, and we have to correct them.”
Jamison Crowder committed a few costly mistakes. He was on the receiving end of a Cousins’ pass that Crowder allowed to sneak through his hands. The pass was picked off by the Cowboys’ Jeff Heath. Just minutes later, Crowder then fumbled on a punt return giving the ball right back to Dallas.
Dallas, now 6-6, did not make mistakes and were aided by an outstanding performance by running back Alfred Morris. The Cowboys would rush for 182 yards led by 127 from Morris who carried 27 times and scored in the fourth quarter on a one-yard run.
After a scoreless first quarter, Dallas jumped out to a 17-0 lead thanks, in large part, to a dazzling 83-yard punt return by Ryan Switzer. Cousins and the Redskins would answer though with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to Ryan Grant with just 59 seconds remaining in the first half.
The second half was all Dallas but for a Josh Docstson 14-yard touchdown reception from Cousins early in the fourth quarter. The loss does not officially eliminate Washington, but the chances of reaching the postseason are slim. To understand how slim – Dallas, Green Bay, Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle, and Carolina must go 5-19 over the course of the next four weeks, and, of course, the Redskins must win out.
Winning out begins with a trip to Los Angeles where Gruden and company have to face the red-hot Chargers. A 19-10 win over the Browns last week gave the Chargers their third straight victory. L.A. is now 6-6 and has a very good chance of winning the AFC West. The Redskins will have to slow a very potent offense led by QB Philip Rivers. More importantly, the Chargers recent success is due to an improved defense that features one of the most feared pass rushes in the NFL. Joey Bosa (11.5) and
Melvin Ingram (8.5) have combined for 20 sacks so far this season.
If history is any indication, the Redskins own a 7-3 record over the Chargers all-time. The Redskins won the last time the two teams met in 2013. The last two times (2001, 2010) Washington played the Chargers on the road – the franchise was in San Diego – the Redskins lost.