Even though you, the voters, selected the Redskins defense as the winner of tonight’s game ball (81 percent), the credit for tonight’s successes fall on the headset of head coach Mike Shanahan.
In the first quarter, he challenged the failed fumble recovery by Kevin Barnes, correctly determining that Barnes touched the ball while still in the air. Cornerback Josh Wilson was actually the second player to touch the live ball, and secured it in bounds. Shanahan is one-for-one on challenges in 2011.
At the end of the game, he called a timeout just before the 2-minute warning to give his offense a chance to drive for the win. Obviously, it didn’t happen, but the game-plan and clock management were in place to allow the players the opportunity to win.
There isn’t much good to take from a loss. It’s even harder to find the silver lining on the first loss, against the arch rival, on the national stage, To.The.Cowboys. But there are a few offensive and defensive notes to take away from tonight’s game that make it worth tuning into next week:
- The Cowboys marched up and down the field tonight, but the Redskins defense held them out of the endzone. Yes, there were big plays that ultimately cost them the game, but by trading touchdowns for field goals, they kept the offense in the game.
- The offense held the Cowboys defense to three sacks, after the unit grabbed nine in the first two games of the season. Protection is still problem, but this was a tough task against the Rob Ryan blitz-happy defense.
On an individual level:
- Outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is a stud on this defense, and will only get better with more time and seasoning. Tonight, he finished with four solo tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. The “rookie” and “new position” storylines are just about dead, because he continues to be assert himself alongside his veteran teammates.
- Santana Moss slides through the Cowboys defense like a hot knife through butter. He finished tonight with a team-high five receptions for 70 yards. He’s not the speed demon like he was for Mark Brunell in 2005, but he’s a smart, fearless, reliable target for Rex Grossman.
Before the game, there were a million reasons to say that the Redskins wouldn’t have a chance tonight. In retrospect, the Cowboys’ injury woes were overblown: Tony Romo, Felix Jones, and Terence Newman all played, and all three factored into the outcome. But once the Redskins were ahead, late in the fourth quarter, there are a million reasons that they should have won.
Every unit will study the game film and figure out ways to improve. Remember that this is still the same young unit that no one believed in two weeks ago, and they had a tall task beating the Cowboys on the road. The Redskins have another road test next week in St. Louis, and I would expect to see tonight’s problems addressed.
This is going to be the longest short week imaginable for the Redskins. A tough loss tonight, and a lot of work to be done.
Over and out from Dallas, final score, Washington 16, Dallas 18.
Tags: 2011 season, dallas cowboys, fourth quarter, josh wilson, Kevin Barnes, rex grossman, ryan kerrigan, Santana Moss, washington redskins
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