Cowboys vs. Redskins: Final Report Cards, Player Grades for Dallas
It was do-or-die time for the Dallas Cowboys and they came up short. On the road against the Washington Redskins with the division on the line, Dallas lost its eighth game of the season when Tony Romo threw his third interception of the game.
The Redskins used running back Alfred Morris, as he rushed for 200 yards and scored on three touchdown runs. The Cowboys dropped to 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year, meanwhile the Redskins improved to 10-6 and won the NFC East.
Let's take a look at the final player grades and analysis for the Cowboys.
Tony Romo: F
If you have been reading these weekly grades of mine throughout the season, you know that I have been a huge supporter of Tony Romo. Unfortunately, there is no defending him tonight. The Cowboys were in position to stage another comeback and either take the lead or tie the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, trailing by three, Romo and the offense got the ball back with 3:33 left on the clock. After a 14 yard pass to Jason Witten, the Cowboys had 1 st-and-10 from their own 29-yard line.
At this point Tony Romo threw an ill-advised pass to DeMarco Murray and it was intercepted by Rob Jackson. It was Romo’s third pick of the game.
It does not matter what Romo did in the previous five games. What people will remember is what he did in his final game. It was not good enough and that will haunt Romo throughout the offseason.
Romo finished the night with a passer rating of 55.6 on 20-of-37 passing for 218 yards. He had two touchdown passes but also had those three interceptions. Once again, Romo has a mediocre night during the Cowboys’ biggest game of the season.
DeMarco Murray: C
There is no question that DeMarco Murray was running the ball hard. He gained 76 yards on only 17 carries. His biggest problem was in the passing game.
Yes, Tony Romo threw a horrible pass, but Murray has to show more hustle and try to knock the ball down to avoid the interception. Murray also dropped a pass that hit him in the hands earlier in the game.
Felix Jones: B-
There was a Felix Jones sighting and it was a good one. Jones rushed five times and gained 24 yards for an average of 4.8 yards per carry. He also caught one pass for four yards.
Lawrence Vickers: C
Lawrence Vickers caught one pass for 11 yards, but he struggled blocking in the running game again. Vickers had problems opening holes on several running plays.
Dez Bryant: B-
Why did Dez Bryant only catch four passes? Was it great defense? Well Bryant, who was already playing with a broken finger, sustained an injury to his lower back and did not play late in the game.
Bryant finished with 4 receptions for 71 yards but was never incorporated into the game. Shame that the Cowboys were unable to take advantage of all the single coverage Bryant faced early in the game.
Miles Austin: F
Is it time to place the “injury prone” label on Miles Austin? Prior to leaving the game with an ankle injury, Austin had three passes thrown his way and he did not catch a single one. Austin did come back into the game for a few plays, but was not on the field late and finished with zero catches.
Dwayne Harris: B+
Dwayne Harris only had one catch in the game but it went for 25 yards. Harris also made a spectacular catch for the two-point conversion. Harris has been amazing returning punts and has earned more playing time with the offense.
Jason Witten: A
Jason Witten is as reliable as they come. Witten added another seven receptions to his record-breaking season and caught the Cowboys only touchdown in the first half.
What most fail to realize is that Witten is a very effective run blocker as well. Witten is almost always on the field with the Cowboys are on offense. Witten finished with 56 yards on seven catches and one TD.
James Hanna: B
With all of the injuries to the receivers, James Hanna was called into duty. Hanna looked like he was working hard as he caught three passes for 20 yards.
The Cowboys offensive line got abused by the blitz tonight. They simply had no answer for it. Outside of Tyron Smith, who managed to hold his own on the outside, the entire offensive line was simply overmatched.
They were unable to pick up any of the Redskins stunts and blitzes and quarterback Tony Romo was constantly running for his life. Below are their individual grades.
Tyron Smith: B-
Doug Free: F
Ryan Cook: F
Mackenzy Bernadeau: F
Nate Livings: F
Jason Hatcher: D
How can you hit the quarterback in the head, late in the game when your team needs to get the ball back? That is the question I would like Jason Hatcher to answer after his bone-headed play to end the game.
Hatcher had a decent game as he recorded seven tackles, but getting that roughing the passer penalty call is inexcusable.
Marcus Spears: F
Marcus Spears was nowhere to be found on the field tonight. Spears only registered two tackles and he was unproductive against the run. Spears had stepped it up lately, but he was clearly not a factor against either the Redskins passing or running game.
Sean Lissemore: F
Once again Sean Lissemore was completely ineffective in the middle of the defense against the run. The Redskins ran up the middle all night and Lissemore was blocked up on almost every run.
Lissemore struggled to apply any pressure against the run or pass. He finished with five assists on tackles in the game.
DeMarcus Ware: F
DeMarcus Ware gets an A for playing under immense pain with his shoulder injury. But sometimes it is better to take yourself out of the game if you are not playing at your best. Ware played his worst game as a Cowboy.
Ware was constantly out of position on the run-option and allowed Robert Griffin III to get past him on several occasions. He only had one tackle in the game and one quarterback hit.
Anthony Spencer: B+
Anthony Spencer really played hard for the defense but it was not enough. Spencer had eight tackles including four solo tackles. He also had two tackles for a loss and had the Cowboys lone sack of Robert Griffin III.
Spencer also had another quarterback hit on Griffin, but he was never the same after he injured his ankle. He was late getting to some runs after the injury and his play dropped after that.
Dan Conner: D
Dan Conner lead all Cowboys defenders with nine tackles but it was the tackles he did not make that cost the Cowboys. Although Connor was around the ball enough to make all those tackles, he was also out of position on several plays. Connor also was unable to make the tackle in the middle of the field on Alfred Morris on a few big runs.
Brandon Carr: C
Brandon Carr played off Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss far too often tonight. Carr has shown that he is much better playing tight bump-and-run coverage, but he had not done that much lately.
Carr only had one pass defensed and only had three tackles.
Mike Jenkins: D
It looks like Mike Jenkins has played his final game with the Dallas Cowboys, and it was because of his play tonight that will allow the Cowboys to let him go in the off season.
Jenkins really never fit into the Cowboys system and he was poor in coverage against the Santana Moss. He finished the game with one tackle.
Morris Claiborne: B-
Morris Claiborne had a solid outing and only gave up a couple of passes to his side. Even on those passes he did allow, he was quick to make the tackle. Claiborne finished with four solo tackles and it was unfortunate that his pass breakup was nullified by the Jason Hatcher's roughing the passer penalty.
Dan Bailey: A
Dan Bailey continues to be perfect and has yet to miss on field goal attempts of 50 yards or less. Bailey kicked a 48-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and is now a perfect 27-of-27 on attempts of 50 yards or less.
Brian Moorman: B+
Punter Brian Moorman was decent on punts. He had four punts with an average of 41.5 yards per punt. He also had a long punt of 50 yards.
Moorman had one touchback and pinned the Redskins inside their own 20-yard line twice. His only problem is that he cannot get the punt to stop shy of the goal line.
Dwayne Harris: A
The biggest surprise this season has been Dwayne Harris returning punts. Once again he had several huge punt returns, including a 39-yarder that setup the Cowboys for their touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Jason Garrett: F
For a second consecutive year, Jason Garrett cannot get his players to play their best football in the biggest game of the season.
The so-called offensive genius, Garrett, got outcoached today. His offense was simply overrun by the Redskins blitz and he never had an answer for it.
Garrett’s offensive play-calling has been questionable all season long, but today it was unwatchable. There are rumblings that the Cowboys will keep Garrett as head coach after the season is over, but that would be a mistake.
Garret has not improved and this team is not disciplined enough. That comes from the head coach. He has never held anyone accountable for their actions and that undisciplined play cost him late in the game after Jason Hatcher was penalized for roughing the passer after the defense had held the Redskins on a third down play.
Players have to be held accountable for plays like that and Garrett did not bench any players after making critical mistakes.