Week 2 Game Recap: Washington Redskins 14, Dallas Cowboys 13
What you need to know
The Redskins’ offense was horrible for the first three quarters of the game. With the team trailing 13 to zero in the fourth quarter, Coach Joe Gibbs opened up the passing game, allowing Mark Brunell to hook up with Santana Moss on two deep post routes for touchdowns.
Washington's first nine drives ended with seven punts, an interception, and a lost fumble. Three of these drives were “three and out”. Along the way, the Redskins managed a meager 144 yards in the first three quarters of play, and seemed doomed to a shutout loss.
The defense played well, bending but rarely breaking against a pumped up Cowboys team that went up early but couldn't manage to put the game away. The Redskins’ defense didn't manage any turnovers, but they stopped the Cowboys late when needed, showing tremendous resolve in the face of their offensive teammates early futility. Their hard work and patience paid off when the offense began clicking in the fourth quarter, and they helped snatch an incredible victory from a seemingly sure defeat.
Dallas picked up where they left off last week in San Diego, playing well on both sides of the ball and earning a 13 to zero edge heading into the fourth quarter. Bledsoe played well, distributing the ball efficiently and accurately on mostly shorter passes, and even throwing in a 70 yard touchdown strike to Terry Glenn on a third quarter flea flicker.
Julius Jones carried the ball 22 times, but never managed to break off any big runs or get into a groove against the typically tough Washington run defense. With 81 yards rushing, he averaged less than four yards per carry.
The Cowboys’ defense looked phenomenal for the first three quarters of the game. The defensive line put good pressure on Redskins’ quarterback Mark Brunell, the line backing crew was led by Dat Nguyen's play making all over the field, and the secondary contributed with several deflected passes, a Terrance Newman interception, and host of excellent plays by Roy Williams.
Unbelievably, the shutout ball the Cowboys played for 75 percent of the game turned into a fourth quarter nightmare, as the secondary allowed Brunell to hook up with Santana Moss for two deep strikes that cost Dallas the game.
What you ought to know
|QB Mark Brunell, Pass: 20 - 34 - 291 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 4 - 35 - 0|
Brunell looked worse than his stat line indicated, especially in the first three quarters of the game. He more than made up for that by hitting Santana Moss on scoring strikes of 39 and 70 yards in the fourth quarter. Most of the game found Brunell dumping off short passes for minimal gains; otherwise his passes were floating on him, and his missed several receivers high and even badly behind on some occasions. Brunell was sacked five times, and pressured many more, but he managed to make some plays by scrambling away from pressure, and even added 35 yards on four carries. His lone interception came on a poor pass where he locked onto his target and failed to read the proper coverage, making Terrance Newman's pick look easy.
Portis ran well but had an off night against a great Dallas run defense. There were a couple runs when he showed strength fighting for yardage, as he ran hard with powerful, continuous leg drive. The problem was that the holes weren't there, and the Cowboys didn't allow him to rip any big runs. The majority of his carries came in the first half, when the game was still close. Once the Cowboys went up by multiple scores, his carries diminished until the end of the game, when the Redskins used him to burn up clock after they went ahead. Portis' lone target without a reception came on a bobbled and dropped pass from Brunell in the left flat.
|RB Ladell Betts, Rush: 4 - 17 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (2 targets)|
Betts was called on to spell Portis, and managed 17 yards on four carries. He had a big run of ten yards result in a lost fumble when Roy Williams hit him hard and knocked the football loose with his helmet.
Moss was Brunell's favorite target on the night, but the results weren't anything to speak of until his massive fourth quarter. Through the first half, Moss had one reception for zero yards. He was clearly targeted in both the short and long passing game, and it was the later that provided dividends for the Redskins. Brunell hit Moss on long pass plays of 41, 39, and 70 yards, the last two on perfectly thrown strikes for fourth quarter touchdowns. Moss was targeted in the end zone in the first half as well, but the pass was a bit under thrown and was deflected by Dallas' Anthony Henry.
Thrash made the most of the looks Brunell sent his way, snagging an 18 yard catch in the early part of the game, and making a nice 20 yard gain on a pass in the flat in the second half. He was the target on Brunell's lone interception.
Jacobs' lone reception came on a curl route late in the third quarter. He was targeted once in the end zone, although Brunell threw the ball into triple coverage, where Dallas' Roy Williams nearly intercepted the pass. Jacobs was injured on the last Washington kickoff of the game.
Patten had a few drops in the game, and never really got into any sort of rhythm with Brunell.
Royal was targeted on short out routes where he had some success. He showed decent hands and a willingness to not only take a hit, but to make one to attempt to gain extra yards after the catch.
Cooley wasn't a significant factor in the game. Both of his receptions came in the fourth quarter, and the last one was a 16 yarder that gave the Redskins the initial first down of their first fourth quarter touchdown drive.
Novak wasn't called on for anything more than two PATs in regular kicker John Hall's absence.
The Redskins played Julius Jones well, keeping him from both gaining 100 yards in the game and from reaching the end zone. The other Dallas rushers were effectively shut down, as Washington only allowed nine yards on seven non-Jones rushes. Linebacker Marcus Washington played particularly well, contributing nine tackles.
The pass defense allowed 261 yards from Drew Bledsoe, but kept the Cowboys' receivers out of the end zone for most of the game, only allowing a Terry Glenn 70 yard touchdown on a flea flicker where the secondary bit hard. The pass rush was non-existent, raising serious questions about that aspect of the Redskins’ defense, especially when playing against a quarterback like Drew Bledsoe who is known for his immobility, holding on to the ball too long, and taking lots of sacks.
|QB Drew Bledsoe, Pass: 21 - 36 - 261 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0|
Bledsoe had continued success in his second start as the Cowboys' quarterback. His completion percentage was around 70% until the Redskins started scoring, forcing him to throw more in an attempt to come back late. Bledsoe was aided greatly by the play of his offensive line, as they kept the Washington pass rush from harassing him the entire game. He wasn't sacked, and he was hurried only a few times. He used this time in the pocket to distribute the ball to several offensive players and positions, with Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson, and Jason Witten his favorite targets. He hit Glenn in the third quarter with a 70 yard touchdown bomb on a flea flicker.
|RB Julius Jones, Rush: 22 - 81 - 0, Rec: 4 - 24 - 0 (5 targets)|
Jones managed good yardage against the stout Washington run defense, yet couldn't break loose for any big plays. Jones was remarkably consistent, going for 42 yards on 11 carries in the first half, and 39 yards on 11 carries in the second. He was also targeted five times in the passing game, all on screens and flat routes. He had a 14 yard gain, which would have been his longest of the game, called back on a holding penalty. Jones was spelled twice, in the first half by Anthony Thomas, and in the second half by Tyson Thompson, when the Cowboys seemingly thought they had the game locked up.
Thomas came in for Jones at the beginning of the second quarter. He was ineffective at running the ball.
Thompson saw action on three straight running plays in the fourth quarter, setting up Jose Cortez's second field goal of the game. It appeared that he was spelling Jones at a time when the Cowboys seemed to be sealing the victory.
Glenn was the spark plug for the Cowboys' offense. He was the only Dallas player to find the end zone, catching a 70 yard flea flicker toss from Bledsoe and sprinting to the end zone. He had several short receptions, and most targets that he didn't catch were poorly thrown balls either overthrown or behind him. He had a 43 yard reception in addition to his 70 yard touchdown.
Johnson had a hard time getting open against the Washington secondary. His missed targets were rarely drops, and most were near the sideline where he would have needed to make an excellent play to catch the ball in bounds. Of the inaccurate passes Bledsoe threw, most seemed to be towards Johnson.
Crayton came crashing back down to Earth after a surprising Week One. Notably, his return duties hurt the Cowboys last ditch effort to win the game, as he failed to field a punt that Washington let roll dead, losing valuable time at the end of the game.
Price was a non-factor in the game, with his only target and reception coming on a wide receiver screen where he was stopped for a one yard loss.
Witten started the game getting few looks from Bledsoe. But as the game went on, his reception total increased, and like Keyshawn Johnson he was targeted with seven of Bledsoe's looks. Two of his incomplete targets were apparent throw aways by Bledsoe, and he had a five yard reception called back on a penalty.
Pierce caught Bledsoe's second pass of the game, and it was a nice snag. Otherwise, he was not a factor.
Cortez pushed the ball left on his first field goal attempt of 41 yards. He other two attempts of 33 and 40 yards were good, as well as his two PATs.
The Cowboys played strong rush defense, limiting workhorse back Clinton Portis to a mere 52 yards on 17 carries. Mark Brunell broke lose for a 25 yard scramble in the fourth quarter, but other than that Dallas didn't allow any big rushing plays, and stopped several attempts for either no gain or a loss.
Until the fourth quarter, the Cowboys' pass defense was superb. Roy Williams, Anthony Henry, and Terrance Newman all made great plays in the game. Williams broke up a few passes, caused a fumble, and even threw in a sack on a safety blitz. Henry was all over most of Brunell's early deep attempts. Newman contributed the only interception of the game. But all that was for naught, as the secondary got beat badly on two deep post patterns by Moss in the fourth quarter, resulting in two late Washington touchdowns, and ultimately, a devastating home loss for the Cowboys.