Cowboys v. Redskins: Game Balls and Close Calls

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Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (12) drops back to pass as Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick (32) defends during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando Scandrick
Honorable Mention:  George Selvie, Bruce Carter

Scandrick provided desperately needed stability to a much maligned pass defense.  While Brandon Carr was getting torched by Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon all over the field, Scandrick held his opposition quiet.  No other Redskins receiver had more than two catches or fifteen yards receiving.  In crucial down and distances, Scandrick was asked to shut down Garcon as well which he did. 

Selvie and Carter each did their jobs fortifying units that are really struggling to make plays.  Selvie provided two tackles for loss in a game that Dallas only had three.  Carter was all over the place, leading the team in tackles and more importantly, staying healthy the whole game, since Dallas was down to zero backups at linebacker.  Both helped keep Washington running back Alfred Morris under 100 yards.


In my opinion, these plays were the most crucial to the success of the Cowboys in this game, contributing greatly to the win.

1. EARLY FIRST QUARTER, 13:18 LEFT, 4TH AND 14 FROM THE WASHINGTON 20 YARD LINE – Normally I do not think first quarter plays can be construed as crucial given the amount of time a team has to recover from it however if a team was ever in need of some positive vibes, it was the Cowboys.  With their best punt returner sidelined for the game and throwing out a guy they just signed this week off the street, Michael Spurlock took the game’s first punt 62 yards, all the way to the three yard line.  This set up the opening touchdown of the game and undoubtedly, helped morale for the silver and blue crew as this lead was held until…

2. EARLY THIRD QUARTER, 13:40 LEFT, 2ND AND 8 FROM THE DALLAS 24 YARD LINE – With Dallas receiving the opening kickoff to start the third quarter and holding on to a 14-6 lead, their drive lasted exactly two plays.  Romo hit a wide open fullback Tyler Clutts (you can’t make this stuff up) in the flat who rumbled for first down yardage before taking a hit and fumbling the ball.  Washington recovered the fumble and four minutes later closed the gap to just one point.  Of course, since it’s the Cowboys, one “WTF” moment is never good enough so…

3. MID THIRD QUARTER, 7:02 LEFT, 1ST AND 10 FROM THE DALLAS 41 YARD LINE – The Cowboys had just converted successive first downs in an attempt to match the last Redskins score, Romo throws a pass intended for Dez Bryant who slips so the pass goes directly to Washington corner back DeAngelo Hall.  Back to back turnovers.  Seven plays later, another touchdown for the Redskins and just like that, Dallas goes from up 14-6 to down 20-14.  With everything hanging in the balance, consecutive turnovers completing changed momentum and put Dallas into desperation mode which led to…

 4. LATE FOURTH QUARTER, 3:14 LEFT, 2ND AND 10 FROM THE DALLAS 28 YARD LINE – After each team added a field goal to make it 23-17, here was Dallas’ last chance to keep hope alive.  Enter Tony Romo.  As he often does, Romo buys time, improvising in and out of the pocket to find a wide open Terrance Williams who has beat his man in part to that same horrible turf.  Fifty-one yards later, Dallas has flipped field position now just outside the cusp of the red zone and with a real shot at taking the lead with just under three minutes to go which is exactly what they do when…

5. LATE FOURTH QUARTER, 1:16 LEFT, 4TH AND 10 FROM THE WASHINGTON 10 YARD LINE – With three shots at the end zone from the four yard line and in already failing, all of which runs by the way, it was once again time for Romo to put this team on his ailing back and deliver.  Contrary to popular belief, that’s exactly what he did… again.  Once more, buying time in a breaking down pocket, Romo stepped out to his right, pump faked a pass to hold the linebacker in coverage and zipped a pass to Murray for the game-winning touchdown.  Disaster averted.  Cowboys win.

This game was certainly not a thing of beauty but it did not need to be either.  Dallas was able to do what most (including myself) did not think they could which to extend their season one more week.  With the Eagles on a super high, winners of six of their last seven coming into town for a do or die part two, Dallas needs to be better.  Thankfully, DeMarco Murray and Tony Romo appear ready for that challenge. 


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