WAS-DAL grades: Prescott earns high marks in win

| 2 weeks ago
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys runs on the field during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys runs on the field during the first quarter against the Washington Redskins at AT&T Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

WAS-DAL grades: Prescott earns high marks in win


Dallas Cowboys 31, Washington Redskins 26

Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from the Cowboys’ 31-26 Thanksgiving win over the Redskins in Week 12:

Washington Redskins

Quarterback grade: Kirk Cousins, 82.0

Cousins puts together an excellent performance

Kirk Cousins played well enough to win this game in all honesty. Throwing for 449 yards, completing 77.4 percent of his passes, and connecting on 152 yards worth of deep strikes on seven shots over 20+ air yards, he just didn’t get the support from his defense. Cousins wasn’t nearly as successful when pressured, but the Cowboys defense could only make that a factor on eight of his 53 dropbacks. When he was kept clean in the pocket – most of the time – he had a passer rating of 126.1, and was completing 84.4 percent of those passes. This was another game that will be a strong one for his resume even if the result didn’t go his way.

Top offensive grades:

TE Jordan Reed, 93.4

QB Kirk Cousins, 82.0

T Morgan Moses, 78.4

TE Vernon Davis, 76.9

G Brandon Scherff, 76.3

Washington airs it out and moves the ball

Washington have built up a pretty fearsome passing attack over recent weeks, and, against the Dallas secondary missing CB Morris Claiborne, they were able to take to the skies again and rack up huge yardage. They chiefly victimized rookie CB Anthony Brown, but there were few Dallas defenders that didn’t allow significant yardage in coverage. TE Jordan Reed was dominant in the game, catching ten passes, two touchdowns and 95 yards worth despite being held on one play deep down the sideline. Jamison Crowder and DeSean Jackson also had big games, with Jackson streaking down the sideline to take advantage of a coverage bust for a 67-yard touchdown. Washington didn’t have great success running the ball, but they had plenty passing.

Top defensive grades:

DT Ziggy Hood, 75.9

LB Will Compton, 75.5

S Donte Whitner, 73.4

DE Cullen Jenkins, 71.8

S Duke Ihenacho, 70.4

Secondary has a day to forget

This wasn’t the best defensive performance you’ll see all year, and as much as you might want to say “they went up against the Dallas offensive line” that would be an unjust out. On the defensive line they made plays, but, in the run game, the back seven just didn’t hold up — missing tackles, taking bad angles and struggling to get off blocks. They were not at the races and picked a bad day for that with the effortless running of Ezekiel Elliott punishing them time and time again. Even when they stiffened up front so slow the running game down, Josh Norman and Kendall Fuller just couldn’t make a play in coverage that could get the Cowboys off the field.

Dallas Cowboys

Quarterback grade: Dak Prescott, 87.8

Prescott makes it look easy

Watch out, NFL, because he’s getting better. Two below par throws all game and a number of money throws highlighted a guy at the peak of his powers right now. He’s moving about like a veteran in the pocket to create throwing lanes then rifling it through tight windows. Terrance Williams deserves a ton of plaudits for his TD catch but the throw was a thing of beauty. As fans of the game we should just soak up a rookie playing so well.

Dak thanksgiving

Top offensive grades:

QB Dak Prescott, 87.8

RB Ezekiel Elliott, 83.8

RG Zack Martin, 81.8

WR Cole Beasley, 80.0

WR Dez Bryant, 78.6

Skill-position players show off talent

The Cowboys won the match ups on offense that mattered. Ezekiel Elliott versus any linebacker. Dez Bryant versus Josh Norman. Dak Prescott versus what a rookie fourth rounder should be able to achieve. When they needed clutch plays they got them and they have the kind of variety of attack that means you can’t rob Peter to pay Paul because someone down the pecking order is going to punish you. The rest of the NFC, nay NFL, has to hope they’ve peaked too soon and that December can slow them down a little.

Top defensive grades:

LB Sean Lee, 85.9

LB Anthony Hitchens, 82.6

DT Cedric Thornton, 81.5

S J.J.Wilcox, 80.8

CB Orlando Scandrick, 76.6

Cowboys get lit up through the air

The Dallas defense got lit up through the air, especially deep, and the majority of the damage was done by rookie CB Anthony Brown. With no Morris Claiborne in the lineup, Brown was targeted 11 times, surrendering nine catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, entirely switching off inexplicably for the 67-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson for the score. Brown wasn’t alone though, and multiple defenders struggled to stay with the Washington receivers in the passing game. Sean Lee made a nice play to intercept Kirk Cousins in the end zone, but it was only on the two-point attempt after a touchdown, and overall they were lucky their offense kept scoring to make the game certain.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Dak Prescott

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

  • etyb

    Redskins defense played like garbage this game, no doubt. Refs weren’t much better, but bad calls (or bad no-calls) don’t typically decide games. Really, though, the ‘Skins offense needs to shoulder a good chunk of the blame here. They left as many as 15 points on the field (settling for two short FGs instead of getting TDs, missing two other FGs, and botching 2-point try). When you go up against top-tier teams like Dallas, you *cannot* settle for FGs and expect to win on a regular basis.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Considering how inept Washington was in recent years I think Redskin fans have to be pretty optimistic that the franchise is finally trending in the right direction. They may still be a couple of years away from being one of those top tier teams but they have come along way in just the past 2 seasons.

      • Mike J.

        I kinda had that thought also. Some people are saying Tampa Bay is like Oakland last year; I thunk to myself watching the Name Which May Not be Mentioneds, ”They are sorta where Dallas was last season.”
        It was entertaining watching teams throw the ball downfield. That Minn.-Detroit game was like watching the Run n Shoot.

      • etyb

        Absolutely! I’m definitely optimistic about the future, but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna go easy on ’em. Defense still needs a lot of work and the offense has got to stop settling for FGs when they get in the red zone. But yes, I think under McCloughan, they have a bright future ahead.

      • Backinmd

        Agree .. One of the main reason was THEY finally got a real GM and the Danny keeps his nose out of the day to day operations .. Some of the previous Redskins GM’s were say ” less than ordinary” to be polite about it …Good teams start at the top …Period ..

    • Backinmd

      Die hard Redskin fan going back to RFK stadium .. Smash mouth football is what it’s all about ..Some of those Giants, Eagles vs Skins games were smash mouth football at it’s best, especially in the 1980’s with LT and John Riggins & the Hogs .. NFC East was THE best Conference in the NFL for years .. The Tuna and Joe Gibbs were spectacular coaches for years and of course had the great material to go with their coaching skills … HTTR …

      • crosseyedlemon

        I think the Redskin-Cowboy rivarly was probably the league’s best back when George Allen and Tom Landry were matching wits. George may have been the ultimate players coach and Tom was a brilliant strategist.

        • Backinmd

          Allen had great motivational skills .. The only coach better THEN with motivation was Vince Lombardi .. George Allen was a great head coach but he stepped on too many toes ( with the owners) in DC and Los Angeles — Edward B. Williams and Carroll Rosenbloom ( orig. Colts and the Rams) ..HTTR !

          • crosseyedlemon

            One of the reasons George is among my favorite coaches is exactly what you stated. He would always try to convince the owners his guys were worth those extra bucks they were asking for….and the players loved him for that.

          • Backinmd

            Right … He was light years above other NFL coaches .. When with the bears – defensive head coach — He was the first coach to figure out how to stop the ” Shotgun” offense ( early 1960’s) when he was with the Bears ..1st head coach to hire a ” special teams ” coach – Dick Vermeil ..Never seen it before or after but in the playoffs against the Packers -1972- he used a five man DL the whole game to shut the Packers & John Brockington ( FB ) down ..” I dare ya to pass “. It worked ..Skins won then got a king size butt whooping vs Dolphins in Super Bowl VII .. As you said he instilled an undying loyalty from his players ..Edward B. Williams – then CEO – said ” Allen was the only head coach he had that could overspend an unlimited expense account ” …

          • crosseyedlemon

            Coming up through the Bears organization helped George enormously. By the time he got to the Redskins he was very familiar with the mindset of cheapskate owners. Halas was a terrific coach but as an owner he never spent a nickle he wasn’t force to.

          • Backinmd

            Cheap ? … Halas could sit on a corkscrew and threw nickles around like manhole covers..He was a terrific coach though but wanted to pay his players in the early 1960’s 1930 wages …

          • etyb

            George Allen was a great coach, but he hated rookies and players under 30, it seemed. Which is a problem because older players wear down and break down, and don’t have any developmental upside. You gotta go with youth and build them up.

          • Backinmd

            When he became Redskins HC he traded for 4/5 ? (or more ) Rams players .. From then on the players were know as Ram-Skins .. It worked . He never like drafting players out of college .. One TV reporter said he was trading his 8th rd draft choice for Tattoo ( Fantasy Island) – TV show ..as a punt returner ….

  • Scottywood

    I am a huge Cowboys fan and have been my whole life (38) years. Now, as most Redskins fans will understand, I hate the Skins more than any other team in the league. With that being said, As a Cowboys fan, football is much funner to watch when the NFC East as a whole are good. (IE 90,s NFC East) yesterday was so fun to watch and even funner that the boys won. Dak vs Kirk, Ez vs the Skins D, Dez vs Josh! FUN FUN TO WATCH. I love the fact that The Skins,The Eagles,The Giants and The BOYS future looks so bright. I see some great old school, smash mouth football for us NFC East fans for the next 5-10 years. I predict that the NFC East will represent the NFC in the Superbowl 3 of the next 5 years! WE DEM BOYZ!

    • Backinmd

      Remember a few of the games in the middle of the 1960’s …One sticks out :: Think it was 1965 w/Skins playing in Dallas in Sept .. Redskins kicked off and Bullet Bob Hayes ran the kickoff back 92 yds for a touchdown .. Next play Dallas kicked off to the Redskins and Bobby Mitchell ran it back 94 yards for a score ..Next quarter Sonny Jurgensen would throw a 80 yard touchdown pass then the Cowpokes would throw a 78 yard touchdown pass ..Went back and forth like this the whole game ..Don Meredith was dallas QB .. .

      • crosseyedlemon

        The 1964 draft was certainly a good one for the Redskins as their first 2 picks (Charley Taylor and Paul Krause) went on to become Hall of Famers. There were in fact 8 future Hall of Famers among the first 18 guys selected and I doubt that will ever happen again.

        • Backinmd

          Charley Taylor was awesome as a player and in my opinion , a great WR coach …He made Gary Clark an all Pro along with Ricky Sanders .. and Charley Taylor could block like a fullback — he could break you in half as Hines Ward could when he played for the Steelers.. Too many NFL fans take blocking for granted ..It’s part of the whole package …Charley Taylor was 1st player drafted in 1964 and started playing as a halfback , then switched to a flanker back …

  • Mike J.

    As a neutral observer, all I can say is this: when i saw that Terrance Williams TD catch, I thought: ”Wow!! Raymond Berry rides again!!” Great toe-tapping footwork.

  • Backinmd

    Redskins clock management had plenty to be desired ..If your going to call a time out, call it ASAP ..Why hesitate even a second ..The Eagles when Andy Reid was head coach was the worst ever ( NFC East anyway) with time management .. Think yesterday Gruden was trying to emulate Andy Reid …

    • crosseyedlemon

      I think sooner or later every HC has himself one of those Homer Simpson “Doh” moments. Even Bill Belichick isn’t immune, as last season after winning the coin toss in overtime, he opted to kick the ball to the Jets.

      • Backinmd

        Right .. Home team doesn’t hear much or recognize ” clock management ” much unless they lose that game and the local press, sometimes, climbs all over them .. The couple years George Allen was on TV heard him say during a few close games on TV that if ” your going to call a time out do it , why wait even 5 seconds ” ..Redskins – Cowboys game last night when the Skins were driving for a touchdown ( 1st half ) 25 secs. left, Gruden waited about 10 seconds before he called a timeout …Why wait ten seconds , even five seconds before you call a time out ..Poor coaching in my opinion …Would that change the outcome of a game ? No and yes …

        • crosseyedlemon

          Back in the 70s when George Allen was coaching it wasn’t uncommon for the home team to manipulate the clock speed late in the half or at the end of a game and then blame it on some mysterious malfunction. They would also doctor the playing field to get an edge or tweak the climate control settings in the opponents locker room. No one really made an issue of this kind of mischief back then but now in the age of social media a team gets crucified if they so much as deflate a football (which was a common practice back then).

          • Backinmd

            Right .. I hear Vince Lombardi would cut the hot water heater off in the opposing teams locker room at home games @ Greenbay .. Your right about the time thing at end of 1st half and end off a game if a close score .. Then 3-8 seconds would ” disappear ” off the time clock on the scoreboard ..A few or more NFL QB would have the footballs deflated to their licking for years **** The press never let go a couple of years ago about the deflating of the football @ NE …One would think NE committed some kind war crime or robbed a bank the day before the game ..You could say it was wrong – deflategate – but the press never shut up about it .. I thought we were going to have a king size Congressional Investigation in DC.. Tom Brady got screwed big time ..

          • crosseyedlemon

            About 5 years ago there was a “NFL dirty tricks” video on Youtube. It was basically an interview of retired players like Art Donovan, Sam Huff, Paul Hornung, Deacon Jones etc. explaining the creative (if not entirely kosher) ways coaches and players would try to gain an edge. Very entertaining but I think the NFL eventually put pressure on Youtube to delete it. Years ago I read “The thinking man’s guide to pro football” by Paul Zimmerman and it had some excellent anecdotes along these lines.

  • “I CANT SAY SHIT CAN I?”

    I think y’all should go back and look at that deep play to Jordan Reed down the sideline. He was clearly holding Byron Jones’s hand down to keep him from making a play on the ball. Clear as day.

    • etyb

      You mean the one where Jones was holding Reed’s arm down practically the whole time the ball’s in the air?

      • “I CANT SAY SHIT CAN I?”

        No the one where Reed was holding jones jack