The good, bad, and more from the stunning 20-17 overtime win in Dallas.
1. Jim Haslett. Unleashed! He turned it loose tonight dialing up a ton of blitzes that disrupted Dallas, especially late when it mattered most. At 17-17 on Dallas’ final drive of regulation, he called what appeared to be 3 straight all out “zero” blitzes. It nearly created two turnovers….the almost fumble recovery by Kerrigan and the near pick by Breeland on the T. Williams catch. 5 total sacks and many pressures including on the final play of the game was a deciding factor in the game. He’s always schemed Dallas and Romo well. They were always in position when Romo tried to spin his way out of trouble with excellent contain. I’m really surprised Dallas didn’t run the ball even more than they did. 19 carries for Murray….should’ve been more.
2. Colt McCoy. It wasn’t pretty all the time but it was damn good most of the time especially with the game on the line. The negatives were one bad interception which took points off the board and multiple struggles getting out of the huddle and to the line of scrimmage in a timely manner. He wasn’t perfect accuracy-wise which cost some YAC chances including under throwing Jackson on a deep shot in the 2nd quarter that could’ve been a touchdown. But when he wasn’t perfect throwing it, he still got it there and completed the throws. He went 25-30 for 299 yards which has to be one of the best nights statistically in Skins’ history in terms of completion percentage combined with yards. In the 2nd half, he was 4-5 on 3rd-down pass conversions and 1-1 on a 4th-down pass conversion. Add to that, a 3rd and goal QB draw for a touchdown and a 3rd and 2 naked bootleg run for a first down. Those #s define big-play success. He got the ball out quickly when people were open and he used his legs to extend plays all night. The throw to Reed on the sideline in OT after he got flushed from the pocket rolling left and directed Reed down the field got the Skins into FG range. He audibled into big plays like Morris’ 29 yard run early in the 3rd quarter. Plays under the radar like the sack he avoided on 3rd down on the first drive of the game that kept them in FG range were important plays in the game. His performance put himself into Skins-Cowboys lore by leading one of the memorable upsets in the rivalry’s history.
3. Baushaud Breeland. He had a game that makes you think the Skins have a corner that can cover a little bit. There was a deep shot early to Terrance Williams that was covered well. There was the 3rd and goal break-up of a pass in the end zone against Dez Bryant. There was the near-pick at the end of regulation on what turned out to be a first-down catch for Williams. There was the final play of the game break-up on the throw to Bryant and add to all of that, he had a strip-fumble on Murray in the 2nd quarter. With all the blitz pressure, he and Amerson were asked to cover man-up a ton and Breeland came up big. The only potential bad play I can think of was the Witten touchdown where it looked like he and Merriweather got confused in coverage…maybe a missed switch on the clear-out by Harris.
4. DeSean Jackson. I guess I care if he can’t block but the big plays he makes as a receiver completely mask any of the “bad blocker” talk. Simply put, he’s the franchise’s best deep threat since Gary Clark. 6 catches for 136 yards.
5. Garcon, Reed, and Paul. All 3 made key plays as receivers. Paul early….Reed and Garcon late. Reed is the real deal. Please stay healthy. Paul was inconsistent as a blocker, Reed too. Paul’s holding/tackling penalty on the Skins’ first drive of the 3rd qtr was bad and could’ve derailed the drive but his 20-yard catch and run on the game’s opening drive was a big early play.
6. Brandon Merriweather. The tape may show that he missed some things in coverage but he was really disruptive around the line of scrimmage and as a pass rusher. Two sacks, another QB hit, and a fumble recovery is a damn productive night in terms of impact plays.
7. Cowboys’ playcalling. DeMarco Murray averaged 7.4 yards per carry. He only got 19 carries. He should’ve gotten more but Dallas seemed to fall back on their pre-2014 ways. On their OT drive, he ran 8 yards on 1st and 10 from the 20. Then the Cowboys went with 3 straight throws. Criticizing playcalling is always dicey but given the problems Dallas had with the Skins’ blitz scheme, I’m surprised they didn’t hammer Murray for at least another 5-10 carries.
8. Special Teams. Roberts had his best punt return of the year early in the 1st quarter which led to pts. Akeem Davis had a big hit in punt coverage. Tress Way’s punt to the Dallas 3 late in regulation was huge! Forbath was 2 for 2 with a monster clutch kick in OT. There was one near-disaster play however. Why did Roberts reach his hand out and swat the ball on a punt return near the sideline late in the 3rd qtr. It seemed he was close to accidently knocking the ball back in bounds.
9. Skins’ linebackers. I thought Kerrigan, Murphy, Robinson, and yes, Riley, all had some very impactful moments. Robinson was all over the field and had the big hit on Romo. Kerrigan had a sack and 3 tackles for loss. Murphy recovered a fumble and made a “Kerrigan-like” near interception after deflecting a pass and nearly coming down with it. I thought Riley had one of the better games he’s had all year. He was good in coverage and relentless chasing and tackling. He had two huge plays on 2nd and 2 (tackle of Murray) and 3rd and 3 (coverage on Witten) on the Cowboys OT drive.
1. Penalties. They only had 6 for 45 yards but 3 of them cost the team a chance at points. Paulson’s 15-yarder in the first half knocked them out of FG range. The Jackson unsportsmanlike led to offsetting penalties and a replay of a 3rd-down instead of 1st and 10 at Dallas 44. Lastly, the delay of game penalty on the final drive of regulation knocked them out of FG range while simultaneously creating a 3rd and long instead of 3rd and makeable. Gruden should’ve called his last timeout in that spot.
2. Ryan Clark. He’s the weakest DB they have. He gets lost in coverage and doesn’t really bring much of a thump in the run-game. He may have been hurt which could explain tonight’s poor showing.
1. Jason Hatcher didn’t register a tackle in the game but he drew a ton of attention which freed others up to make plays.
2. Alfred Morris ran harder and better tonight than he has all season. He got to the corner with some speed and made yards after contact. They pitched the ball to him more giving him a chance to get the ball quicker. He definitely has a fumbling problem even though he didn’t lose any. BTW, he got facemasked on the Skins’ OT drive with no call.
3. Roy Helu continues to be a productive runner and pass catcher. His 1st and 25 run of 18 yards on a draw was key on their early 3rd qtr touchdown drive.
4. Weeden did a great job in relief of Romo. 2 drives….10 pts. Was it a blessing for the Skins that an injured Romo came back and played?
5. Silas Redd got a carry and looked good until he nearly fumbled….ruled down before ball came loose.
6. I was convinced that Romo was destined to be the hero after Kerrigan couldn’t come up with the fumble on the Merriweather sack late in the game and Breeland missed on the pick 2 plays later.
7. I though the Skins might take a timeout and force a punt at the end of the first half with 20 seconds left and I thought they might take a shot at a 10 yard pass to the sideline and a Hail Mary at the end of the 4th quarter.
8. Can you imagine the heat Dan Snyder would take if he stood on the sideline next to his coaches and players during the crucial moments of a game like Jerry Jones does?