Redskins 13, Cowboys 7
It's a fine morning, isn't it? Any morning after a Redskins win is pretty good, but after a win against Dallas, the air smells a little sweeter, the traffic moves a little quicker, the coffee is a little more Irish...err, that might just be me. Was it a pretty win? No sir. But a win is a win is a win.
Donovan McNabb's first game as a Redskin wasn't exactly a huge performance. He had more incompletions than completions, averaged just 5.3 yards per attempt, and didn't lead the team on any touchdown drives. But for his first game, I wasn't too disappointed. I mean, he definitely put some passes in the grass that could've been completed, and his longest pass was just 24 yards. But he seemed more comfortable and confident than Jason Campbell ever was for Washington. Part of that is experience, but part of that is also just the raw knowledge that you can make the plays you want to make.
The running game, however, was atrocious. Take out McNabb's 17-yard scramble, and the team rushed for 72 yards on 21 carries, a paltry 3.4 yards per carry. Clinton Portis had a crucial 18-yard run late in the game to help set up Graham Gano's second field goal of the game, but other than that, he and Larry Johnson were utterly useless. It's a new offensive line, so hopefully the development of chemistry is the only hangup here, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that we might be watching the decline of Portis.
I don't think you can say enough about how well the Redskins' defense played. The Cowboys are one of the most vaunted offenses in the NFC, and deservedly so. The talent is all there for this team to score fifty points on any given Sunday. Holding that offense to seven points is reason to be excited. Moreover, the defense just looked good. They had pressure on Tony Romo for much of the game. The stat sheet reflects only one sack, but of the twelve penalties called on the Cowboys, several were holds and false starts, forced by the constant pressure that Jim Haslett's defense was putting on Dallas.
Also worth mentioning is that Dallas made a series of bonehead mistakes at the end of the first half, and Washington's defense capitalized. With eleven seconds left, and on their own 36 yard line, the Cowboys elected not to take a knee and go into halftime down 3-0. Romo dropped back, but as his pocket crumbled (a regular occurrence last night), he scrambled and made a swing pass to Tashard Choice. Choice was immediately wrapped up, but rather than go to the ground, he tried to fight his way free. Redskins defenders swarmed to the spot, and DeAngelo Hall ripped the ball out of Choice's hands, then picked it up and returned it all the way to the house.
Last year's Redskins would've found a way to kick that ball out of bounds...
Special Teams: B
There was a botched field goal attempt that looked like it might have been the difference in the game, but thankfully it wasn't. Obviously you don't want that to happen again, but with the first new long-snapper in like a decade, a little bit of growing pain isn't completely unforeseeable. Furthermore, the kicking team did convert on a 49-yarder in the fourth quarter, and those are the kinds of kicks you want your kicker to be able to make.
Devin Thomas showed a lot of flash in his kick returns, and he may have found a spot where he can contribute, even if he's not the wide receiver we were all hoping he'd be. Josh Bidwell punted well enough, nothing noteworthy.
I feel okay about this season's prospects. Again, stifling these Cowboys is an impressive feat by this defense, and if the offense can catch up, the Redskins could challenge for a playoff spot. Gotta get that running game moving, though.
(This post was started in August; I lost direction for a while, and obviously we've got some new information, a la the actual gameplay, ...
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