The game could not have started out any worse. It was de ja vu from last week against the Giants: an offense that could not get anything going. Jamison Crowder alone was the cause of two turnovers in the first quarter. He could have been given the first quarter MVP by the Cowboys. From there, it snowballed throughout the first half through the end of the game.
The injuries seem to have finally caught up to the offensive line as Cousins was under duress for a majority of the game. The running game could not get much going as Jay Gruden was resolved to call quick throws and screens to muster some sort of offense.
The defense did everything it could to keep them in the game, but in the end, the Cowboys offensive line was too healthy and too much having their way.
With this loss, the Redskins playoffs chances are all but mathematically over. They will have to rely on too many teams to lose out to go in as a six seed at 9-7. It is that time to start looking towards next year and what this team could look like going into 2018.
Ryan Switzer’s punt return for a touchdown to make it a 17-point game with 3:48 left in the second half. The Cowboys never looked back. The special teams have been an Achilles heel all season long and it just continued with this punt return.
Player of the Game
His stats were not as sexy as usual, but Kirk Cousins gets the player of the game tag this week. Cousins was under pressure for 13 of his first 22 drop backs and it did not end there. He would take shot after shot and still get back into the huddle and find a way to keep going. There were not many bright spots in this game, but Cousins was one of them. It is time to start seriously discussing whether the front office should pay him or not.
Passing Game: D+
Dropped passes, tipped passes for interceptions that should have gone for a touchdown, fumbles. Everything that could go wrong went wrong for the receivers in the first half. It did get better in the second half as Ryan Grant emerged as a go-to target and Josh Doctson’s beautiful 50-50 TD ball showed glimmers. But there were too many mistakes.
One thing that was made clear tonight, and had reared its ugly head in previous game, Samaje Perine is unable to pass block which has led to sacks and a fumble by Cousins. Perine is a rookie and clearly has to work on this in the offseason. But, with the offensive line so banged up, it would have been nice to see him step up to the challenge.
There was some good with the passing game. Cousins keeps getting more comfortable with off scheduled plays. He had a beautiful scramble to buy time before connecting with Crowder throwing off his back foot and falling backwards. Cousins again bought time on a TD to Ryan Grant with :59 seconds left in the first half.
There have been worse performances, but the passing game is expected to be better and consistent every week.
Running Game: C-
The running game looked good at the beginning, but the Redskins had to abandon it due to falling behind so quickly. Just like in the passing game, the offensive line is just so banged up. Perine finished the game with 12 carries for 38 yards. It is hard to get anything going against a defensive line that has their ears pinned back for 60-minutes.
The defense was stellar in the first quarter in setting a tone that should have been followed by the rest of the team. They held the Cowboys to a field goal when they started inside their own red zone. The Cowboys’ offense was just able to wear down a thin defense with the run. The defense looked fatigued by the time the offense was able to get something going late in the 4th quarter. They just ended up not being good enough and Breeland was beat twice on jump balls against Dez Bryant.
Special Teams: F
The special teams were just a flat-out disaster. Crowder’s fumbling problems transferred from offense to his punt returning duties. One must think that if Maurice Harris wasn’t out with a concussion he would have been back there returning punts. To add insult to injury, the punt coverage team allowed a TD by the Tar Heel Ryan Switzer. If I could give a worse grade than a ‘F,’ I would.
Yes, the Redskins are not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But, the season is pretty much over at this point. They will be heading to the west coast for the third time this year to play a red-hot Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers will be looking to keep their division hopes alive as the Chiefs have fallen back and opened the door to that possibility.
Pride, and future roster spots, are on the line from here on out for the Redskins. We could also be looking at Kirk Cousins final four games as the Redskins’ starting QB. We should enjoy that while it lasts before we head into another offseason of uncertainty.
Next Game: Redskins (5-7) at Chargers (5-6) 4:05PM (CBS)