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Washington Redskins: 5 Gripes Stemming from the Loss to Cowboys

Shae CroninCorrespondent INovember 21, 2011

Washington Redskins: 5 Gripes Stemming from the Loss to Cowboys

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    It’s often said that, even if the Redskins go 2-14 in a season, let those lonely two wins come against the Dallas Cowboys.

    On Sunday, the Redskins were playing in the form of redemption. After having lost the first matchup in Dallas, the Redskins were playing for pride, bragging rights and the purpose of protecting home field. That, of course, didn’t happen.

    The Redskins lost in overtime to the Cowboys, 27-24, and for some reason I don’t feel nearly as upset as I usually do.

    Did I want to smash the Cowboys? Absolutely. But there was a lot of good that came out of yesterday’s game too.

    Briefly looking at the Redskins’ positives, I would point out that Rex Grossman (yes, I admit) played a very good game. Minus the one interception where he attempted to force a deep ball, Grossman actually looked like a starter.

    Another positive would be the play-calling from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who miraculously seemed to find a whole different chapter in his playbook.

    And then there’s the defense, who played generally well, holding the Cowboys’ blossoming rushing attack to just 89 yards.

    But, as usual, the gripes always outweigh the positives. And that much can be said about yesterday’s game. Even if we were talking about a Redskins’ win this morning, the negatives would still be noticeable and relevant.

    So without further ado…

5. Third Down Offense

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    It wasn’t a surprise to see the Redskins offense struggle on third down yesterday, but enough is enough. I understand that a paper-thin offensive line on third down can lead to disaster for the offense and a feeding frenzy for the defense, but at some point I would think that the play-calling adjusts to the teams strengths.

    Unless, of course, the coaching staff really can’t find any.

    The Redskins finished the day six-of-15 on third down (40 percent) and it didn’t look like they did their best to stay out of 3rd-and-long situations. The most obvious way of improving on third down is to limit the number of third downs you put yourself in. And in the unfortunate cases of third down, at least keep them to five-yard conversions or less.

    Easier said than done, I suppose.

4. Defense on 3rd-and-15

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    With just under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter with the game gridlocked at 17, the Redskins had placed the Cowboys into a very difficult 3rd-and-long position on their own 41-yard line. After getting a little help from the crowd, the Redskins watched the Cowboys flinch on 3rd-and-10 and suddenly this 3rd-and-15 looked like the possible play (or stop) of the game.

    Having been at the game in person, my mind literally just went blank. As much as I’d like to blame that play on one guy, I can’t even begin to explain who was at fault.

    I watched Tony Romo scramble and I know I yelled, “Get him!” because the defense was so close to doing so. But, being the crazy man that he is, Romo scrambled, hit Jason Witten and I watched the 6’4" behemoth rumble towards the end zone I was sitting in to score a 59-yard touchdown.

    And just like that, the Cowboys were up 24-17 and FedEx Field felt deflated.

    The Redskins would obviously go on to put together a very strategic late-fourth quarter drive to send the game into overtime, but I wonder if we’d even be talking about overtime had the Redskins defense allowed just 14 yards or less on that specific third down.

    Again, in the moment, I have no idea who was at fault for letting Witten (Romo’s favorite target) out of their sight or who, if anyone, missed the tackle to save the touchdown.

    Normally, I re-watch the game on Sunday night to gather everything I may have missed. I won’t be re-watching this one.

3. Special Teams

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    Everyone had been talking about Brandon Banks this season, using words like "ineffective" and "non-factor." And for the first time this season, Banks silenced his critics.

    Banks returned four kicks for 93 yards and three punts for 97 yards, one of which was a 55-yarder.

    Unfortunately, despite the great field position Banks helped to provide, it was kicker Graham Gano that ultimately ruined the day for the special teams unit.

    After nailing a 40-yarder early in the third quarter, Gano got a second crack with six minutes to go in the third. Although a long 49-yarder, it was three points that could have potentially changed the outcome of the game.

    Gano would of course miss that attempt, turning the ball over to the Cowboys on their own 39-yard line.

    Upon receiving that possession, the Cowboys would string together a 14-play drive that would span from six minutes to go in the third quarter to about 14 minutes remaining in the fourth. On 3rd-and-goal from the Redskins’ seven-yard line, Romo would connect with some dude named Laurent Robinson in the back of the end zone to tie the game 17-17.

    But that wasn’t all from good ol’ Gano. After Grossman led an amazing fourth-quarter drive and receiver Donte Stallworth did everything he possibly could to earn him his paycheck, Gano had a chance to end the game in overtime with a 51-yard field goal.

    The Redskins had won the toss and elected to receive. Even with a bonehead 10-yard penalty in overtime, Grossman led the Redskins on a 10-play 48-yard drive to set up the admittedly long attempt.

    But having watched Gano kick a 59-yarder in that same stadium just two weeks prior, I was confident at this point. No dice.

    Whether we bash Gano for his miss in regulation or overtime, we can also use the excuse that our games shouldn’t come down to field goals. However, given the state of this team and what they’ve been able to do (or not do) this season, the Redskins live and die by whatever points they can lie, cheat or steal for. 

    Graham Gano was a huge factor in Sunday’s loss.

2. DeAngelo Hall

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    I think this goes without need for explaining, but I’ll say it anyway. DeAngelo Hall is not good.

    How do you know when it’s bad? When an opposing offense targets your team’s supposedly best cover corner on third down.

    Did everyone get that? The opposing offense (meaning Tony Romo and the Cowboys) targeted the Redskins’ “best” cover corner (DeAngelo Hall) on third down, the most crucial of plays in any NFL game. And for yesterday’s game, the Cowboys were 8-of-17 on third-down conversions.

    Let’s, for a second, imagine that DeAngelo Hall was as good of a corner as he is at running his mouth. Maybe then he’d be one of the league’s best cover corners and worthy of his ridiculous six-year, $55 million contract.

    I know that we’re all expected to view Hall as a “playmaker,” but I can’t understand how a team’s No. 1 cornerback can’t decently cover the opposition. Not even a little bit.

    In his only defense, Hall was matched up with Dez Bryant for a majority of the game, and Bryant is, without argument, a freak of nature. But that’s far from an excuse for Hall. He sucks.

1. Cowboys Fans

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    By far, one of the worst things about being a Redskins fan and attending games at FedEx Field is the fact that, regardless of the opponent, the crowd can be made up of 50 percent of the away team’s fans. It’s embarrassing.

    Although still far from acceptable, I acknowledge the fact that the Cowboys are one of the best traveling fan bases in the NFL. And for some reason, there’s a lot of Cowboys fans in the Washington metro area.

    I have this hunch, however, that 80 percent of those specific Dallas fans couldn’t even name three counties in Texas, or can even claim that they’ve visited “their team’s” hometown. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Washington is a transparent sports town. Not only do stadiums and arenas go empty if a team is struggling, but the area is also a melting pot of all different fans from all over the country. I get that. But having a Cowboys chant in FedEx Field that rivals that of a Redskins chant is downright pitiful.

    And with that, I’ll wrap up the rant. The Redskins are sitting at 3-7 and I think it’s safe to include Washington’s name in the Matt Barkley sweepstakes. But with a little more atrociousness, the Redskins could certainly slip into the talks of Andrew Luck come April.

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