The Dallas Cowboys have now scored at least 30 points in four consecutive games, rolling over the Redskins on the road Sunday to move to 4-3 on the season. Still chasing down the now 7-1 Eagles, the Cowboys needed this game badly, and were able to gut out a divisional win behind another strong offensive output that was supported by a defense taking advantage of Washington’s banged up front.
With the Redskins missing three starters on the offensive line, the Cowboys built up their lead with three field goals in the third quarter and never looked back – sacking Kirk Cousins four times, recovering two fumbles, and scoring defensively with Byron Jones to seal the game with an interception.
As always, here are a few post game thoughts from my scout’s perspective as we begin breaking down an emotional win for the Cowboys while preparing for the Kansas City Chiefs back in Dallas on Sunday.
Sean’s Scout: Cowboys 33 Redskins 19
- Ezekiel Elliott’s second career game in Washington started out just like his first, which was a forgettable performance. Losing two fumbles as a rookie in his second game last year, Elliott turned the ball over on Dallas’ first play of the afternoon. This time though, Zeke responded brilliantly with 150 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 33 carries. Elliott’s first touchdown was a perfect display of the extra gear that he had lacked in the open field earlier in the season. The Cowboys stayed ahead of the chains that entire drive, keeping the Redskins on their heels as Dak Prescott was once again deadly outside of the pocket. As the Dallas offensive line cleared things out for Zeke to score from 13 yards out, Elliott effortlessly got up to the safeties and did not have to even think about changing directions on his way to a big touchdown. That freakish speed paired with his power to fall forward for tough yards is what makes Elliott such a difference maker.
- This was one of the most sound games I’ve ever seen CB Orlando Scandrick play, and to no surprise it led to good things in the Cowboys’ secondary against a Redskins team that ended up having to pass the ball from behind. Scandrick’s highlight on the day was returning a blocked field goal that Tyrone Crawford got his hands on to set up a first and goal, but it was his toughness in coverage and skill to play both inside and out that made a huge difference. The Redskins throw a lot at opposing CBs with combination routes and plenty of speed on the outside, but Scandrick dealt with all of this by playing physical at the stem and trusting his coverage over the top when needed.
- Speaking of Tyrone Crawford, there aren’t enough positive things to say about his ability to show up every week and make an impact on the defensive line. You just can’t find many 3T defensive tackles in this game that would even be willing to kick out to LDE one year and RDE the next, but that has been the case for Crawford. It is no secret that the Cowboys needed to improve their rushing defense, and playing Crawford anywhere as one of your four down linemen does this. Washington ran for just 49 yards on the afternoon, and a big part of this was Tyrone Crawford’s ability to keep blockers away from him with his strong base and low center of gravity to make plays down the line. Crawford has also shown the ability to surprise LTs with an outside rush to capture the corner with good burst and flatten the edge on passing downs. Add in the play of the season thus far for the 2017 Dallas Cowboys, Crawford’s blocked field goal where he was lined up next to David Irving, and you have a veteran player that is finding a ton of ways to help this team compete right now.
- When the Cowboys turned over their secondary by letting some long-term starters walk in free agency, they were very public about their confidence in finding upgrades at the draft. A big part of these plans at cornerback also included Anthony Brown, a sixth round pick in 2016 that made an immediate impact last year with his easy speed and smooth coverage ability. Now, there is no hiding that Brown is struggling in his second season, and yesterday showed some flaws in his game that were strengths for him as a rookie. Brown is struggling in his movement ability and overall fluidity, which were traits that jumped off of his tape back at Purdue. Anthony Brown ran step for step with some of the fastest receivers in the league a year ago, putting him in position to win at the catch point with his length and anticipation. Failing to put himself in similar positions this year, Brown is also getting caught much more often with his eyes in the backfield – a recurring problem for him. As Jamison Crowder freed himself down the seam for a 41 yard gain to set up Washington’s first touchdown, he put Brown in a position to be beat either inside or out off the snap. Separating from Brown and getting him off balanced, Crowder exploded downfield and tracked down a perfect pass from Kirk Cousins before Jeff Heath – who stood no chance – could recover as the safety over the top.
The Dallas Cowboys have their first win streak of the 2017 season! While it is not quite yet the 11 game run they went on last season to finish 13-3, the 4-3 Cowboys made a statement at the Redskins yesterday that they are (hopefully) done beating themselves and back to being one of the hardest teams to get to in the NFL.
With an offense that can’t be stopped, doing what they were expected to do on the season, and a defense that knows they must simply limit big plays and get after the passer, the Cowboys are playing complimentary football ahead of another tough part of their schedule.
With the Chiefs and Falcons in their way before the Cowboys get a shot at the league-leading Eagles, the Cowboys will have a decent amount to clean up after this win prior to next Sunday. Stay posted right here to Inside The Star as we address much more from this game, and get you ready for Dallas’ return to AT&T Stadium!