Rivalries are best served hot. With teams in contention that win not only division titles every so often but more than one playoff game every decade. When Redskins-Cowboys was at its peak–lets say from 1971-93?–they were two of the dominant franchises not just in the NFC East (16 of 23 division titles) but the NFC and NFL (7 Super Bowls and 10 conference titles). Since the mid-90’s, the two teams have continued to be HUGE cash cows in stadiums that the head says is better but the heart says is inferior to their predecessors. But their on the field magic isn’t what it used to be…and although everybody inside the Burgundy and Gold Beltway hates Dallas, the Giants have entered the “Who’s the Cowboys’ greatest rival” conversation. The NFL in its ascent to the sports apex is a “here and now” league…and while always tipping its cap to tradition (Thanksgiving in Detroit, the bad blood AFC West) the NFL has always pushed the present. And in the present these are two occasionally good but far from great teams.

The Redskins’ 31-16 loss to Dallas gave fans a little bit of everything: offensive possibilities…defensive improvement and special teams frustration. Dropping to 1-4 and 0-2 in the NFC East is not ideal… especially with Chicago and Denver (a combined 10-2) coming up next. November could be very cold around the Beltway.

RG3ver– Mr. Griffin went 19-39 for 246 yards and an interception while losing a fumble…but had his best day on the ground with 77 yards on 9 carries. His knee brace and his knee remain an issue (at least until he goes 3 years without injury)…and his tale of two halves (60.3 passer rating before intermission and 93.1 rating after halftime) continues to concern. But just as there was more to the offseason than RG3’s knee…there’s more to what ails the Burgundy and Gold that their quarterback’s play.

Mr. Morris not going to the Max– another episode where Slater (Roy Helu rushing for 42 yards and catching 4 passes) tried to upstage Alfred the Underused…but BAM! like Zack winning the ATV race at the Malibu Sands. Unfortunately, for this Morris another day of under 20 carries and 100 yards makes this season feel like the clips episode where Zack stayed home from school and reminisced about his Malibu Sands summer.

Third and Halfway Home– the Skins converted half of their 3rd downs (8-16)…with RG3 completing 7 of 11 passes, 5 of which moved the chains. Griffin also rumbled for a 26 yard scamper on 3rd and 5. The yardage breakdown: 3-3 on short yardage, 2-2 on medium (4-6) yardage and 3-11 on third and long (7+ needed). Lost in the numbers: the Skins went 0-4 on third down inside the Dallas 35 yard line.

D earning an improved grade– after ranking 32nd for the first month, the defense is making strides. The 213 yards allowed represent a season-low…and if it weren’t for special teams breakdowns, turnovers or unfortunate penalties they’d be talking about Rob Jackson’s interception or London Fletcher’s 8 tackles. The Cowboys’ opening possession was their only drive longer than 50 yards… and the Skins held them to under 50% on third down. Granted, just one sack to 30 pass attempts is not ideal…and the pass rush needs to create more havoc if the grade continues to climb.

Cobra Kai– the Kicker is back! Sweeping the Leg! No Mercy! I’ll let you know when he’s made enough attempts! All was going gangbusters until he missed a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter…stifling a second half surge. Now he’s going to be with a different long-snapper–and we all know how one tiny thing can turn a sure victory into a crane-kick loss.

Not So Special Teams– Forbath had a better night than the rest of the kicking game…with one punt returned for a touchdown and one kickoff run back 90 yards to set up another Dallas touchdown. Add in five special teams penalties…and one wonders if they’re missing Danny Smith and Lorenzo Alexander a little more than they thought. At least Sav Rocca’s punting well (47 yd avg).

Flying Flags– about those penalties…12 in all totaling 104 yards. From holding on punt returns to false start on extra points…even an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the bench. And a few of these flags led to crucial plays: 1-Rob Jackson’s Illegal Use of the Hands moved a 1st and Goal from the 8 to the 4…setting up a Demarco Murray scamper for a score. 2-Jerome Murphy’s Illegal Motion forced a rekick of a punt downed by the Skins…that wound up getting returned for a Dallas TD. 3-Alfred Morris’ false start and Kory Lichtensteiger’s hold on consecutive snaps pushed the Skins back to 2nd and 19 from the 11…setting up a Cowboys pass rush that forced and recovered an RG3 fumble to set up the Cowboys final touchdown. Tough bounces, indeed…

Dissecting the Division– Dallas owns the tiebreaker over Philadelphia thanks to strength of victory…the Cowboys would be seeded 4th while the Eagles own the 8th seed thanks to conference record (sorry, St. Louis). The third place Redskins take 13th place in the NFC thanks to the strength of victory tiebreaker they continue to hold over Minnesota…while the last place NY Giants are also last in the NFC because Tampa Bay’s only played 5 games as opposed to Big Blue’s 6.

NFC Least?– after General Manager Bruce Allen referred to the division as the “SEC of the NFL”…it’s underperformed to a 7-16 composite record, worst in the league. That’s 3-12 against the rest of the world. That’s 1-6 against the AFC West– which is one reason that division boasts the best record at 15-7. Maybe next year they can shoot for being the “Sun Belt”.

Advertisements