After failing to win the biggest key to last week’s game, the Dallas Cowboys must find a way to dominate this category in order to beat the Washington Redskins.
Last week, my game day post laid out the ground work of how the Dallas Cowboys would be victorious. Sadly, the coaching staff had neither the time nor the inclination to read it.
All jokes aside, last week I stated that the result of the game would come down to how each team fared on third down. While the Dallas Cowboys had a better third down conversion percentage, it was the Giants who were more prosperous.
Not only did the Giants score two touchdowns on the “money down,” they also stopped the Cowboys from matching. Dallas had two chances to do as well, yet wound up kicking field goals instead.
Simple math explains that twelve minus six is six. When you lose by one, losing that down effectively by six points is costly.
So now, the Dallas Cowboys, fresh off of squandering a great opportunity take their show to the Nation’s Capital.
Can Dallas even up their overall record as well as their divisional ledger? Will the Cowboys start off 0-2 for just the sixth time since 1989?
It all comes down to one big thing.
Why is this benchmark so important?
Last year, in five of Washington’s eight losses (including playoffs) they allowed some pretty huge individual rushing performances.
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Devonta Freeman (153 yards), Chris Ivory (146 yards) and LeGarrette Blount (129 yards) all had monster days against the Redskins. In their playoff loss, Washington allowed a combined 126 yards to Packers backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Lastly, when Carolina beat them down 44-16, Jonathan Stewart rushed for 102 yards.
Just last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers used this same threat to pound the Washington defense in to submission. Thirty-three year old DeAngelo Williams put up 143 yards on the way to a 38-16 whooping.
So, in six of their last seven losses, Washington has been less than stellar with their run defense. This is great news for the Dallas Cowboys, or at least one would think.
Last week the fourth selection overall running behind the “best offensive line in the game” was supposed to produce fruitful results.
Instead we saw 20 carries produce just 51 yards and the lone touchdown for the Cowboys.
That is not going to get it done this week. Neither will quarterback Dak Prescott being limited by the coaching staff in the run game.
Prescott needs more carries from the run-pass option sets. Elliott needs to be more productive. Backup running back Alfred Morris needs more carries.
Forty-five pass attempts is not going to be a recipe for success today. Forty-five rushes? Well that would be certainly more preferable, although highly unlikely.
At the end of the day, the total carries will be dictated by the success that comes from them. If you want to employ the excuse that the Giants paid a lot of money in order to have a formidable front, I’ll give it to you.
Washington has done no such thing. Allowing 100+ yards six times in their last fourteen games indicates a weakness.
It’s up to the Dallas Cowboys to exploit that weakness. Do so and they will win. Fail and they will be facing an 0-2 start.
Cowboys 24, Redskins 20