Cowboys vs. Redskins: Final Game Grades, Analysis for Washington
The Redskins have claimed the NFC East crown and have solidified their spot in the NFL playoffs.
How sweet the sound!
With just over a minute to go in the game, Alfred Morris capped off his night with his third score of the contest and racking up 200 yards on the ground. Very impressive stuff from the rook.
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In arguably the most significant game for the Redskins in the last two decades, the Dallas Cowboys travel to Washington tonight to battle for the NFC East division crown. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST.
After starting the season 3-6, the Redskins have bounced back following their bye week and have won six straight.
Tonight the Redskins have the chance to defeat their bitter rivals, crown themselves division champs and solidify their spot in the playoffs.
We'll be bringing you live grades and analysis throughout the game. Be sure to check back after each quarter for updated info and stop by after the game for the Redskins' final report card.
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Robert Griffin III – B
If you came into this game looking for a performance similar to that of RG3’s last game against the Cowboys, then you were left horribly disappointed.
Finishing the game with just 100 yards on 9-of-18 passing, Griffin was never really given a lot to work with down field in order to find his passing groove. He showed poor placement on a few throws early on, but the real trouble seemed to fall on the receivers and their inability to get open.
As the game progressed, the Redskins adjustments called for short passing plays, in which case Griffin commanded the field and got the ball out quick.
Not to be denied, Griffin contributed to his team’s potent rushing attack, tacking on 63 yards on six carries and one touchdown.
After suffering a vicious knee sprain just three games ago, Robert Griffin III should look a little better this week than we saw him seven days ago against the Eagles.
That's not to say Griffin wasn't good, but his knee was obviously an issue.
Tonight, in the biggest game of his young career, RG3 will have his shot under the brightest of lights to prove to the world that he's Washington's savior.
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Alfred Morris – A
Robert Griffin III may receive all the glory in Washington, but fellow rookie Alfred Morris is one helluva football player and his first season with the Redskins deserves some talk for league Rookie of the Year honors.
With his career-best 200 rushing yards on 33 carries and three touchdowns, Morris set the franchise single-season rushing record with 1,613 yards on the year.
As we’ve seen from him all season, Morris ran hard and physical, keeping his feet constantly moving and his momentum moving forward. On more than a handful of runs tonight, Morris demonstrated natural field vision with some impressive cutbacks and burst to propel him for huge gains.
Morris’ 32-yard touchdown run with just over 10 minutes to go in the game to give the Redskins a 21-10 lead over the Cowboys felt like a nail in the coffin. Although the game was far from over at that point, the play itself and momentum shift seemed very promising.
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Receivers (as a unit) – C+
On a day where the Redskins passing attack was pretty much non-existent, the receiving corps had very little to show in the team victory.
Pierre Garcon led all receivers with 46 yards on three receptions (five targets), but he had a huge drop on a third down during the Redskins' first drive of the second half. Although he’d rebound in the fourth with a big third down conversion grab on a slant, Garcon didn’t have a good game.
Joshua Morgan would contribute to the Redskins’ drop category tonight, registering no catches on four targets and pulling a Rod Gardner catch attempt on a third down early in the game.
Despite just one catch for 12 yards, Leonard Hankerson may have been the Redskins’ best receiver. Not only was his 12-yard grab a snatch out of the air and great run after the catch, but his blocking on the edge was key in a few Redskins’ pickups on the ground tonight.
Tight end Logan Paulsen made the most of his one target tonight, showing incredible hands and strength when he grabbed a pass amongst a draping defender and latched onto the pigskin like he had talons.
For a guy that doesn’t get enough love, it was fun to see Paulsen get a grab.
Veteran Santana Moss contributed with two catches for 22 yards, one of which came on a very nice out route in the first half that gave the Redskins a tough third down conversion.
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Offensive Line (as a unit) – A
Paving the way for 274 rushing yards is no easy feat, and the Redskins offensive line deserves a lot of credit for how they performed tonight.
Although the passing game would never quite develop, quarterback Robert Griffin III had pockets to throw from and his line gave him the time. And when it wasn’t a pass, the line was busy getting to the second level, controlling the trenches, firing off the ball and clearing lanes for a 200-yard running back performance.
Even after losing starting left guard Kory Lichtensteiger in the second half, rookie Josh LeRibeus came into the game and played pretty decent football, considering.
Right tackle Tyler Polumbus deserves credit for his play tonight. I may have been hard on him to start after watching him whiff a block on third down in the redzone, but he really rebounded nicely to close the game.
As a unit, the Redskins offensive line played disciplined, smart and physical football. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan stuck with the run game and put a lot into the hands of his offensive line.
Thankfully for all of Redskins Nation, those guys delivered.
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Stephen Bowen – B
Another good game for Stephen Bowen where he sets the edge in the run game and crashes hard to halt runs in the middle.
Bowen also came up big in the fourth quarter when he busted through the line and helped London Fletcher take down Tony Romo for a 15-yard loss.
Barry Cofield – A
The big hit on Tony Romo in the second quarter that had him slow to get up is such a telling piece of Barry Cofield’s performance this season.
As a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, you’d be hard pressed to find a less sexier position. However, Cofield’s combination of size and speed make him a unique player and a real problem on the line, hence the reason he leads the team in quarterback pressures this year.
Jarvis Jenkins – B-
A pretty quiet day for Jarvis Jenkins and his two tackles in the game.
I still think Jenkins can be that player we all thought he’d be, but I still don’t believe he has regained 100 percent of his explosiveness off the line either.
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Perry Riley – B+
Jason Witten’s touchdown in the second quarter did happen to fall on Perry Riley, but it was far from a coverage mistake. Riley played great on Witten, the Redskins didn’t bring any pressure, Riley decided to face guard and he was beat by one of the best tight ends in the league.
Anyone understand how hard it is to cover for 19 seconds while the quarterback hears no footsteps whatsoever?
Riley finished the game with six tackles.
London Fletcher – A
Finishing the game with four tackles and two sacks, London Fletcher further proved why he shouldn’t be just an alternate for the Pro Bowl.
Fletcher’s best spot tonight was his sack in the fourth quarter that resulted in a loss of 15 yards.
Visibly pumped prior to the game, Fletcher brought that energy to the field, flew around fast and attacked the quarterback with a vengeance.
Ryan Kerrigan – B
Far from a bad game for Ryan Kerrigan, but his pass rush wasn’t anywhere close to what it needs to be. Heading into the playoffs, opponents have to respect Kerrigan as a terror coming off the edge. He, on the other hand, needs to give them reason to.
Rob Jackson – B+
We saw great action from Rob Jackson all game – something we’re all seemingly getting used to.
In addition to just a couple tackles, Jackson also came up with a huge pick during crunch time in the fourth quarter to help seal the NFC East title and a spot for the Redskins in the playoffs.
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DeAngelo Hall – A
Another superb game out of DeAngelo Hall if you ask me.
Faced with the tough task of denying Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, Hall was aggressive and physical off the line, which seemed to bother Bryant a bit.
Hall was a technician in coverage and he certainly benefited from the pressure from the front seven.
Josh Wilson – B+
A big hit on a Cowboys receiver in the redzone resulted in an incomplete pass and forced a short third down for Dallas. However, despite such plays, Josh Wilson won’t get all the credit he deserves for a game well played.
Reed Doughty – B
Good tackling out of Reed Doughty all night.
On 2nd and Goal with the Cowboys threatening to score, Doughty came in fast and undercut a blocker en route to the ball carrier for a loss of yards.
Richard Crawford – B+
Continuing his stellar play of the past few games, rookie Richard Crawford came up with a big interception that helped save three points early in the game.
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Kai Forbath -- C
Not a good game for Kai Forbath today. Not only did he botch his first miss of the year, but he was also pretty weak on kickoffs.
If you're not known for touchbacks, you better be sure you can handle field goals. I hate to give the guy a hard time considering how clutch he's been so far this season, but perfection is a hard thing to maintain and criticism comes with the territory.
Richard Crawford -- A
Two punt returns for 18 yards tonight for Richard Crawford, one of which went for 15 yards.
Even if Crawford can't find much daylight in his returns, it's good to see him keeping his eyes up field and keeping his feet quick.
Niles Paul -- A
The 48-yard kickoff return in the second half by Niles Paul was great for momentum. Although that particular Redskins drive wouldn't score, the return was deflating for the Cowboys after having just pulled the game within three points and thinking they had the flow.
Sav Rocca -- A
In addition to his booming punts on the day, Sav Rocca took matters into his own hands when he watched his coverage outrun themselves in the second half and took down Cowboys returner Dwayne Harris with one hand on his dreads and the other on his face mask.
The Rocca "tackle" would net a 15-yard penalty. But you gotta love the attitude, right?
I've seen a lot of score predictions for tonight, most of which have the Redskins winning by three by some count or another. If that's the case, kicker Kai Forbath will need to remain perfect and come through in the clutch, as he has all season.
In the return game, rookie Richard Crawford will hopefully continue to keep his eyes upfield and remain a threat on punt returns.
In a game like this, a big return on special teams does so much more than just get your team closer to the goal line.
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Kyle Shanahan -- B
It's not Kyle's fault that the receivers weren't executing their routes down field (game tape permitting). There were numerous dropped balls questioning reliability in this game and the Redskins were never really able to take shots down the field.
Credit to Kyle too for sticking with the running game and taking what the Cowboys defense was giving him. He has assembled a very potent Redskins offense -- one that can lose a limb and still be effective.
Jim Haslett -- A
Love, love, love the aggressiveness from Jim Haslett tonight. I know that on most nights that's one of Haslett's problems, but tonight he received great individual performances from his players and timed his blitzes very well to rattle Tony Romo.
How're those three interceptions looking?
After watching Kyle Shanahan and Jim Haslett draw up such efficient game plans over the past several weeks, no one should expect much different tonight.
Kyle has been able to keep his offense fresh, adding new wrinkles and throwing out different looks that cater to his players' skill sets. Meanwhile, Haslett has done the same and has miraculously found a way to get after the quarterback.
In a prime-time spot with prime-time playoff implications, I expect both of these guys to be aggressive and leave it all out on the field.