ReFo: Cowboys @ Redskins, Week 17
Essentially locked into the third seed with nothing to play for, the Cowboys came out swinging anyway, leaving the first string in until the last minutes of the fourth quarter. They were rewarded with a win and some intangible momentum as the offense churned out another strong performance. They’ll have a much sterner test against Detroit next Sunday, but with the way this offensive line chews through defenders, even the Lions could have trouble slowing them down.
Washington meanwhile wraps up another disappointing campaign that raised more questions than answers as Robert Griffin III put up another less than stellar outing. The offseason looms large as the team must make a decision at quarterback, and while it’s the most important position, there are other holes on the roster that must be addressed as well. As these clubs head in opposite directions, here are some standouts from their final meeting in 2014.
Dallas Cowboys –Performances of Note
Tyron Smith, LT: +6.3
Breakdown: Raising his streak of positively-graded games to six in a row, Smith had little trouble moving defenders where he wanted them. Perfect in pass protection for the third time in four weeks, Smith is in rare form heading into the postseason.
Signature Play: There were plenty to choose from, but his block of Perry Riley on DeMarco Murray’s 32 yard run in the first quarter (3:05) exhibited his effectiveness at the second level.
Bruce Carter, LB: +2.5
Breakdown: He’s not been this consistent all year, but Carter laid down a solid performance even in spite of a couple of missed tackles. Recording a season high six defensive stops, the fourth year player responded to his second highest snap count of the season with his highest grade since Week 9 of last year.
Signature Stat: His two interceptions stand out on the stat sheet, and his fourth down stop on a hitch to Jordan Reed (Q3, 11:05) was another impressive play in coverage.
Dez Bryant, WR: +1.7
Breakdown: Tallying his seventh straight game over 70 yards receiving, Bryant caught only four passes but made the most of them, scoring twice and falling three feet short of a fifth 100-yard game this season.
Signature Play: His toe-tapper late in the first was a thing of beauty, beating the tight coverage of David Amerson to haul in his second touchdown of the quarter.
Washington Redskins –Performances of Note
Robert Griffin III, QB: -6.0
Breakdown: His 336 receiving yards look good on the surface, but dive a little deeper and you’ll see that his receivers accumulated a massive 314 yards after the catch thanks to a litany of screens and dump offs. His only completions over 20 yards came on passes to DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon behind the line of scrimmage. RG3 rarely challenged the defense, and while it’s uncertain how much of that is on Griffin and how much is on the play calling/offensive system, friction between Griffin and the coaching staff could make that a moot point by next August.
Signature Stat: Not counting his throw-aways, Griffin threw only one pass aimed over ten yards in the air, a deep shot to Santana Moss in double coverage.
Ryan Kerrigan, OLB: +2.2
Breakdown: One of the few consistently productive members of the Washington defense, Kerrigan notched a hit and three hurries as the only Redskin to record multiple pressures.
Signature Stat: Kerrigan has been held without pressure just twice in his four year career with Washington (WC in 2012 and Week 17 in 2013).
Pierre Garcon, WR: -1.6
Breakdown: Garcon’s negative grade isn’t necessarily indicative of a poor performance- rather, the Washington offense failed to get much out of its playmaking receiver. His 47 yard sprint on a wide receiver screen helped boost the offense, but with just three targets on the day, his $9.7 million cap figure went to waste this year.
Signature Stat: Thirty of his 68 receptions in 2014 have come in three games (Weeks 1, 3, and 14). Over the other 13, he’s averaged just three catches and just 34 yards.
PFF Game Ball
Tyron Smith was excellent in both facets of the game, earning our game ball with his highest grade of the season.