ReFo: Redskins @ Cowboys, Week 12

Sam Monson breaks down how the Redskins overcame the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

| 5 years ago

ReFo: Redskins @ Cowboys, Week 12

The second of the slate of Thanksgiving games gave us an NFC East showdown between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, and while it threatened early to turn into a rout, it ended up a relatively interesting finish as Dallas tried desperately to complete the big comeback.

In the end they had simply spotted the Redskins too many points and couldn’t complete the key plays when it mattered the most. Washington for their part will be happy with the win, but will want to examine exactly how they allowed the Cowboys to come so close in a game that should have been out of sight by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

Everybody will want to make this about the two quarterbacks, and RG3 came out of the game with more credit than his more experienced adversary did, mirroring the result on the scoreboard.

Washington – Three Performances of Note

RG3 Deep Shots

Those that like to criticize Griffin do so by saying he doesn’t attack down field, and that he runs an offense of dink and dunk short passes that make him look better than he really is. While there is certainly some truth to the idea that the majority of the offense is short passes (17 of 28 attempts in this game where under 10 yards down field), the threat he brings as a runner and the skill he has with ball fakes open up the deep ball for when he does strike.

He took three deep shots in this game, and though one of them resulted in an interception from an ugly overthrow, the other two both went for touchdowns, one of which was wide open as the safety froze until he could correctly read pass. As long as Griffin is able to exploit the deep passes that are opened up by all of the short parts of the Redskins’ offense this well, it’s simply not a valid criticism of his game.

Not a Happy Homecoming

While RG3 bought friends and family 20 tickets to the game, his left tackle, Trent Williams, doubled that as he returned to Texas to play. This was not the display he wanted to put on for those friends and family. Though he won the game, and didn’t allow Griffin to hit the deck, he was responsible for four hurries and owed as much to Griffin’s escapability than to his blocking for that. Williams was also flagged for a false start and was beaten in the run game frequently, most worryingly by backup Tyrone Crawford.

Williams has the ability to be one of the league’s premier tackles, and has been at times this season, but this was a game he will not look back on fondly, and perhaps the pressure of playing in front of so many friends and family simply got to him. He will look to bounce back.

DeAngelo Hall’s Interesting Day

Hall finished the day by sliding down at the 1-yard line, passing up a touchdown on the Dallas onside kick attempt to let the Redskins kneel out the last dozen seconds, but he was somewhat fortunate to even be on the field. Earlier in the game he got into an altercation with Dez Bryant and threw a strike at the Dallas receiver’s head, catching him in the facemask. Bryant looked around for any official to take action and none so much as saw it. That could well have been an ejection on Hall, but instead he was able to have one of his better games of the season.

Hall was thrown at eight times, allowing five receptions for just 36 yards, and picking off Romo on a play intended for Cole Beasley in which he had inside position all the way through but Romo tried to fit it in anyway. This was the best and the worst of Hall in one performance, but he was lucky to avoid the worst having any consequences of note during the game.

Dallas – Three Performances of Note

The Romocoaster

The play of Tony Romo can be incredibly frustrating at times. He is capable of both the sublime, and the infernal all in the space of one drive, let alone one game, and can never quite seem to string it all together. In this game he made some fantastic throws, passed for three touchdowns and 441 yards, but also threw a pair of ugly interceptions and, in the end, turned the ball over more times than he could overcome.

His first pick was a case of trying to force the ball too much. Hall had inside position all of the way through the play and Romo banked on his 5’8, 177lb receiver fighting through him physically to get to where the ball was thrown. It was never going to happen. His second pick was vintage Romo, showing a complete disregard for a dropping linebacker who was always in the throwing lane. London Fletcher was able to just wait for Romo to throw the ball right to him. Of course, Romo then led the team on a few late drives and could have made things very interesting with a 50-yard bomb to Bryant in the end zone with under a minute left, but for Madieu Williams knocking it loose and essentially ending the legitimate chance of the win.

Tale of Two Corners

The Dallas corners this season were supposed to be the foundation for that defense to be aggressive and make plays, safe in the knowledge that they had a pair of shutdown players that could handle things behind them. Morris Claiborne has been up and down all season as a rookie, but this game he was impressive, except for a nasty tendency to give up the edge in the run game, allowing gains to the sideline. He was thrown at just three times and allowed only one reception, for -2 yards as he jumped all over a bubble screen, shutting it down immediately.

Carr’s day was less impressive, allowing five receptions for 43 yards on his seven targets, and also being beaten for a touchdown by a fantastic effort from Santana Moss. In all, four different receivers caught balls against Carr, and RG3’s passer rating throwing at him was 128.6

Spencer Shows Up

The Dallas Cowboys have an impressive pair of OLBs, and though Ware gets all of the press, Anthony Spencer remains one of the league’s more underrated players. He finished this game with a pair of sacks (though one of them came unblocked) and two more hurries, while he stood tall in the run game as well.

In truth Spencer’s specialty is the run game, and he graded well again this outing, making another series of stops to add to his Run Stop Percentage this season of 9.8, currently second among 3-4 OLBs. Ware will draw all the attention, but Spencer is capable of big games like this if he isn’t handled well by the offense.

Game Notes

Pierre Garcon ran just 22 routes, on 29 snaps, but still caught five balls for 93 yards and a TD on seven targets.

Josh Wilson was targeted heavily by the Cowboys, giving up seven receptions for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 10 targets.

— Of his 62 pass attempts, Tony Romo threw a massive 26 between the numbers within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Game Ball

Several players had outstanding games for Washington and enabled them to come away with this win, but Robert Griffin III tied them all together.


Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • Anton

    How close to the best WRs in the league is Dez Bryant getting?

    • KemuelStewart

      Not even close.

    • Phresh


    • Derrick

      Just look at what people were saying about Dez around one month ago.

  • jasper

    yea what he said?

  • Lars Lundahl

    It was weird. The game seemed to be out of reach for the Cowboys, set and done, “that’s al she wrote”…and then somehow I realize that the Cowboys are only down by 1 TD. That shrug me off.

  • mattymatty2000

    Trent Williams is suffering from a number of injuries (ankle, shoulder, knee) that I suspect are holding back his level of play.