Fresh off their first back-to-back wins of the season, the Dallas Cowboys were ready to get their first three game win streak. Unfortunately, their most hated rival, the Washington Redskins had different ideas. The Cowboys annual Thanksgiving game ended in disappointment for the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium.
The Cowboys climbed back into the game but after an unsuccessful onside kick attempt, the Cowboys fell seven points short falling to 5-6 on the season. The Redskins improved to 5-6 and Robert Griffin III became the first rookie in NFL history to throw four touchdown in consecutive games.
Tony Romo: B-
Tony Romo started the game slow and did not reach 100 yards passing in the first half. He turned it up a notch in the second half and finished the night with an 84.1 passer rating on 37-of-62 for 441 yards. That is a career high in passing for Romo, but unfortunately his two interceptions did not help.
Romo continues to be elusive and made some great plays while out of the pocket. One of those plays included an 85 yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant late in the third quarter.
However, since the Cowboys lost the game, everyone will be talking about how Romo threw two interceptions instead of how he almost led his team back to victory.s
Felix Jones: B-
Felix Jones has had little success running the ball in the absence of DeMarco Murray. Because the Cowboys were in such a huge hole early, Jones only got six attempts and only gained 14 yards rushing.
It is clear that Jones is not 100% healthy and his 2.3 yard per carry average might be indicative of that. Jones did gain 47 yards on three receptions and scored a touchdown receiving.
Lance Dunbar: C-
Lance Dunbar only had one carry in the game, gaining eight yards. He was utilized more in the passing game, where he was targeted six times.
Dunbar only made three catches, though, and was out of position on the other three. If Dunbar expects to see more playing time, he will have to be more productive when he is on the field.
Dez Bryant: A+
For the third straight game, Dez Bryant has gone over 100 yards receiving. Although he was quiet early, he turned it up in the second half.
Bryant finished with 145 yards on eight receptions and scored two touchdowns. His first, an 85 yard catch and run, showed that Dez Bryant has a lot of speed and can be great in years to come.
Bryant did make a mistake having a big fumble in the second quarter and he has to do a better job protecting the football.
Miles Austin: Incomplete
Miles Austin left the game with a strained hip flexor in the first quarter. He did not have any catches prior to his departure, and will have an MRI on Friday.
Cole Beasley: B
One of the bright spots for the Cowboys was Cole Beasley. Beasley gained 68 yards on seven catches. He had a long of 20 and was used with short underneath routes. With Austin’s departure, Beasley should see plenty of playing time in the future.
Dwayne Harris: B
Dwayne Harris is providing a highly needed target for the Cowboys. He only caught four passes, but he averaged 17.8 yards per catch. He finished the night with 71 yards and he provided a much-needed spark in the return game.
Jason Witten: B
Jason Witten caught nine passes for 74 yards. Although those are good numbers for a tight end, Witten was once again held without a touchdown. Witten was also penalized with a false start penalty that stalled a drive early in the game.
These are mistakes that the Cowboys cannot afford, and Witten has no reason for being penalized like that. Witten provides great leadership for the team and he has to keep these penalties to a minimum.
Jeremy Parnell: B+
Nobody expected Tyron Smith to be on the field today, and his replacement Jeremy Parnell had a solid outing. Parnell did not allow any sacks, and was not penalized in the game and only allowed two quarterback pressures.
Doug Free: F
Clearly Doug Free continues to be the weakest link on the offensive line. Free, the most penalized offensive lineman in the league, was penalized again with a false start penalty. Free also gave up a sack and much of the pressure Tony Romo received came from Free’s side of the ball.
Mackenzy Bernadeau: B-
For only being his second start at center Mackenzy Bernadeau had a decent game. He did roll the ball back to Romo once, but Romo was able to pick it up and throw a touchdown pass on the play. Bernadeau did a good job blocking up front, and it will be interesting to see where the Cowboys utilize him when Phil Costa comes back.
Nate Livings: C
Nate Livings struggled in this game. He gave up several quarterback pressures, and was penalized for a false start. The penalty was costly, as it pushed the Cowboys from second and goal at the 10, to second and goal at the 15. This was most likely Livings worst game of the season.
Tyrone Crawford: B+
Tyrone Crawford saw plenty of playing time due to the injury of Jay Ratliff. Crawford finished the game with five solo tackles and a huge sack. He also was credited with a quarterback hit, and was crucial in holding the Redskins rushing attack.
Jason Hatcher: A
Jason Hatcher continues to get better week after week. Hatcher was constantly in the backfield applying pressure on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Hatcher finished with four total tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack and two hits on the quarterback.
Marcus Spears: C-
Marcus Spears was limited in action again. He was only credited for one tackle, and did not apply any pressure on the quarterback. If Spears’ production continues to decline, he will most likely see less playing time.
DeMarcus Ware: B-
DeMarcus Ware had an eerily quiet game. Once again he was held without a quarterback sack, and he was only credited with one solo tackle. He did have one viscous hit on RG3, but was quiet for the rest of the game. It is unknown if the double-teams are getting to him and keeping him out, or if Ware is struggling with an injury.
Bruce Carter: B+
Bruce Carter was having a good game up until he got injured. Carter dislocated his left elbow in the fourth quarter, and did not return to the field. Carter will have an MRI on Friday, and hopefully he will be allowed to continue to play. Otherwise, the Cowboys defense will suffer another great injury to its linebacking core.
Anthony Spencer: A+
Anthony Spencer is becoming one of the best players on the defense. Spencer had another huge game that included two huge sacks on RG3. Spencer finished the game with 10 total tackles, seven of them solo, and two tackles for a loss. Spencer had another two quarterback pressures, and two quarterback hits as well. If Spencer continues to play this way, it should ease up some of the double teams that Ware is continually facing.
Brandon Carr: B-
Brandon Carr was more involved in the run game, having five solo tackles. Unfortunately for Carr, he struggled in Rob Ryan’s zone defense. He was out of position on a couple of plays, and Ryan might be better suited to use him as a cover corner than in his zones.
Morris Claiborne: B
Rookie Morris Claiborne had a better performance and was only thrown to a few times. Claiborne had two solo tackles, and was credited with one tackle for a loss. Claiborne is another cornerback that clearly favors playing bump and run coverage than in the zone.
Danny McCray: C-
One week after having a strong performance, Danny McCray struggled in coverage. McCray was out of position twice and both times the Redskins hit for huge touchdown passes. McCray only had two solo tackles in the game, and after playing through injury last week, it may have affected him against the Redskins.
Charlie Peprah: B+
Charlie Peprah had a strong game, having to come in at safety from time to time. He finished with three tackles and one pass defense. His biggest play was an interception that he returned for 27 yards, and clearly he was more comfortable in the zone than McCray and Gerald Sensabaugh.
Dan Bailey: B+
One week after being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, Dan Bailey continues to be perfect on field goal attempts inside 50 yards. This week, he added a 51-yarder to go along with his two shorter kicks, and was perfect on two extra points. If Bailey can consistently make kicks from 50-55 yards, he will become a bigger asset for the Cowboys.
Bailey needs to work on his onside kick attempts, because the final kick of the game was horribly executed.
Brian Moorman: A-
Brian Moorman continues to do a decent job punting in place of Chris Jones. Moorman had three punts in the game and averaged 56.7 yards per punt. He pinned the Redskins inside their 20-yard line once and had a long of 64 yards.
Dwayne Harris: B
Dwayne Harris continues to add excitement into his punt returns. He almost broke one in this game, but was tackled last second, and it only went for eight yards. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, when Harris was back to return kicks, he never had an opportunity as the Redskins kicked it out of the red zone.
Jason Garrett: D
Once again, Jason Garrett’s team failed to show up in the first half. Scoring a combined three points in the first half of the last two games, his offense’s production out of the gate is simply inexcusable. If Garrett has dreams of being a head coach years down the road, these slow starts must cease.
All that is saving him from receiving an F is the fact that Tony Romo was able to rally the troops and put up three touchdowns in the second half. Garrett is on the verge of losing his job.