During a game in which the offense struggled, the Dallas Cowboys defense and special teams units were outstanding. The Cowboys rode the stellar play of cornerback Brandon Carr and return specialist Dwayne Harris to a 31-16 home victory over the Washington Redskins.
This marks a very important win for Dallas, as it moved to 3-3 on the season and now find themselves tied atop the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys travel to Philadelphia next Sunday for a matchup that will decide which team will take sole possession of the division lead.
Washington Redskins - 16
Dallas Cowboys - 31
Game Analysis for the Dallas Cowboys
Pass Offense: Tony Romo had his ups and downs over the course of the contest. He would certainly like to have some throws back; however, others were spot on. Romo got off to a slow start—partly due to shaky play by his offensive line—but finished strong by leading the team to 17 second-half points.
Run Offense: Dallas barely even tried to muster any sort of running game because Murray was knocked out early. The balance of the offense was shifted heavily to the passing game, as the team decided to rely on the arm of Romo rather than the legs of Joseph Randle.
Pass Defense: The entire Cowboys defense contributed in this department on Sunday night. Despite a rash of injuries, constant pressure was applied on Robert Griffin III. Brandon Carr had a stellar game in the secondary, as he finished with three defensed passes.
Run Defense: The Redskins had clear intentions to establish the run in the second half, and they did. After some explosive runs by Griffin and running back Alfred Morris, Washington finished the game with a total of 216 yards on the ground.
Special Teams: Dwayne Harris may have been the player of the game. After a stellar punt return in the first half, he was at it again in the second. Harris took a kickoff 90 yards before he was stopped deep in Redskins territory. The return set up a short scoring drive for Dallas.
Coaching: Adjustments were made over halftime to apply more pressure to Griffin. Even though the defensive scheme allowed for open running lanes, it was effective against the pass, as Griffin could not find a rhythm. On offense, Dallas decided to go with a veteran passer over a rookie runner, which worked out for the team in the end.
First-Half Analysis for the Dallas Cowboys
Pass Offense: Tony Romo has not been completely effective for the most part Sunday night. His passes have been errant at times, which has led to a halftime passer rating of 59.9. However, all of the blame cannot be put upon Romo’s shoulders—he has not received much help from the offensive line and was forced to throw before he was ready on several occasions.
Run Offense: The Cowboys running game took a huge hit early on. DeMarco Murray was injured on the second drive of the game after running hard for 29 yards on seven carries and scoring once. Rookie Joseph Randle and Phillip Tanner will split the workload for the remainder of the game.
Pass Defense: Dallas has been playing a bend-don’t-break style of defense Sunday night. The Cowboys have allowed Washington to drive down the field but clamped down when it matters most. The Redskins have been able to produce yards on underneath routes, but they have not been able to get over the top of the Cowboys secondary.
Run Defense: Play along the defensive front has been absolutely stellar, thus far. As a team, the Redskins have carried the ball 13 times for a total of 39 yards—good enough for just 3.0 yards per carry. Dallas lost DeMarcus Ware late in the second quarter but did not struggle in his absence.
Special Teams: The play of the game to this point came from punt returner Dwayne Harris. He showed his elusiveness and speed, taking a Washington punt 86 yards down the sideline for Dallas’ second score of the game.
Coaching: Statistically speaking, both of these teams have played a relatively close game. However, the Cowboys have been able to cash in for two touchdowns in the first half. Some halftime adjustments are necessary on the offensive side of the ball, and it is up to head coach Jason Garrett to revamp the game plan.