The Dallas Cowboys barely escaped a disappointingly-played game against the Browns, the Cowboys stand one game behind the division leading Giants. One game. 2 weeks ago, the Giants were 6-3 and the Cowboys seemed to be doomed at 3-5. Following 2 NY losses, and 2 Dallas wins, the Cowboys are back in a heated race for the NFC East. On Thanksgiving Thursday, the injury plagued Cowboys will host the Redskins and get their first dose of RG3. The Redskins are just one game behind the Cowboys at 4-6, and are a dangerous opponent, especially since division games are always tough fought, no matter how good or bad the teams may be. The Redskins will try to spoil the Cowboys Thanksgiving, and the Cowboys will look to rack their 6th win of the season, and pull within striking distance of the Giants. Read on to see what I predict is going to happen in 2012's first Cowboys/Redskins tilt.
DeMarcus Ware vs Trent Williams Williams is a great tackle that knows how to keep his QB relatively safe when he's in the pocket. DeMarcus Ware is a great pass rusher, who knows how to bother the QB, and keep him relatively on edge when he's in the pocket. This is gonna be a great matchup, but with Williams a bit hurt, I see Ware gnawing on him all day. Ware will be a game changer, as he will get the better of Williams enough to bring Griffin down at least once, and flush him out of the pocket multiple times, and also force the hurried pass. RG3 will not look forward to week 17, when he gets Ware again.
Ryan Kerrigan vs Doug Free Kerrigan is not a marquee rusher like Ware, but he has the ability to harass the QB, and can be a tough match for any tackle in the league. Unfortunately for Dallas, the RT is not very competent. Just like Ware will live next to Griffin, Kerrigan will have similar success against Free and Romo. Romo simply cannot trust Free. Kerrigan will record a couple sacks, along with many pressures to add to his resume. Dallas is lucky to have a QB that is related to Houdini, or else a couple sacks could just as easily turn into 4.
Alfred Morris vs Bruce Carter Alfred Morris is having a pretty good rookie campaign. Meanwhile, Carter is having a great sophomore campaign. I expect Carter to hold Morris down enough for the defense to hold its own. Morris won't get completely shut out, but it won't be one of his better games.
Robert Griffin III vs Cowboys secondary The Cowboys have been much better against the pass this year than they were last year. However, RG3 has shown to be very good at picking out soft spots against pass defenses. I expect him to have a productive day, but will have a tough time doing it, and will be extremely hard pressed in the clutch situations.
Redskins Game Plan The Redskins might be able to keep up on offense, but will need the help of the defense. The Cowboys offense hasn't produced to their ability yet, and the Washington D must hope they don't suddenly explode on Thanksgiving. Dez Bryant will be the player to watch, as he seems to have grown into Dallas these past few weeks. He now has 57 catches and 735 yards this year. If he continues with his production, the Redskins are gonna be in for a looong day. They have to capitalize and stop the slow offense to stay in the fight.
Cowboys Game Plan The Cowboys have to play defense the way they have been. Their defense is what's keeping them in contention right now. The Redskins are the perfect opportunity to continue that success, as they are led by a rookie QB and RB. If the Cowboys can play well enough to give the Redskins trouble on offense, the Dallas offense should be able to do just enough to pull out the third straight win.
Quarter by Quarter
Q1 I think the Cowboys will start with the opening kickoff here. The O-line will immediately look terrible as the Cowboys convert their first set of down, then get nothing going and punt the ball on their first possession. The Redskins offense gets a little bit going, but the Cowboys make a stop and get the ball back. Romo leads the ball down, and after a key play to Dez, the offense is set up for a field goal. Stupid penalties steal the chance at 7, and the Cowboys get the field goal instead to take a 3-0 lead. The Redskins hold on to the ball for a long while, but punt the ball again and put the Cowboys inside their own 10 at the end of the first.
Q2 The Cowboys will have a long field ahead of them to get the TD. After starting deep in their territory, Romo pulls them out and lead them onto the other side of the 50. After being stopped on a short 3rd down, the Cowboys go for the fourth down and convert. It seems like game changing momentum, but Dallas cannot harness it, as once again they get just the field goal. 6-0 for Dallas. The Redskins come onto the field with a feel for the Cowboys D. They inch through it slowly, before they get a long pass to set it up in the redzone. The big play gives them a boost, and Griffin puts the ball into the endzone for the first TD, and take a 7-6 lead. The Cowboys go 3 and out, then punt the ball. With just a few minutes left, the Cowboys D stops RG3 and gives the ball back to Dallas, with one last chance to score before the half ends. Romo gets into the redzone, but with time running out, the Cowboys take the safer option and knock on another field goal to take a 9-7 lead going into halftime.
Q3 None of the offense have gotten anything going in the first half, and the Redskins hope to change that with the start of the third. They make progress into the redzone, and a TD seems to be on it's way. The Cowboys force a third down, and Griffin takes a strike at the endzone, which Dallas is able to stop. Washington gets a field goal and take a 10-9 lead. The Cowboys step onto the field, looking for their first TD. Romo leads a very good looking drive to the Redskins 30. The fans are expecting the drive to end with another field goal, but Dallas is able to take advantage, as Romo finds Dez deep in the endzone for a TD. Dallas take a 16-10 lead. The Cowboys D carries the momentum by sacking RG3 on third down and earning the ball back for Dallas. The game goes into the fourth with the Boys leading 16-10.
Q4 The Cowboys will have the ball and the opportunity to take a 2 possession lead. They take it far enough to get a field goal, but Felix Jones fumbles the ball and gives the ball back to Washington inside the Redskins 20. The Redskins have a long drive in front of them, and only get the field goal to make it a 2 point game. Romo is back on the field, only up by 3 with half the fourth left to go. Romo throws and gives both Dez and Miles big plays, and the Cowboys are inside the Washington 10. Two runs later, the Cowboys have about 5 yards to go for the TD on third down. Romo will make the clutch play, as he finds Witten in the endzone on the play to take a demanding 23-13 lead in the fourth. The Cowboys are looking good on defense, until the Redskins drive following the Cowboys TD. The Redskins are desperate and burn through the Cowboys D. RG3 puts it into the endzone again for a TD to make it a 23-20 game, with about 5 minutes left in the game. Dallas steps onto the field, hoping to rebuild the lead they had. They eat up much of the game clock, inside the 2 minute warning. After the Redskins D uses up all their timeouts and the 2 minute warning, the Cowboys knock on one last field goal to make it 26-20. The Redskins get the ball left with about 1 minute and no timeouts left, needing a TD to win. They lead down to the Cowboys 30 with time for one play left. The Redskins play the lateral game, but can't get the TD as Bruce Carter recovers a loose lateral pass to close the game.
Final Score: Cowboys 26, Redskins 20
Romo: 28/36, 310 yards, 2 TD
Jones: 15 rush, 60 yards, 1Fumble, 3 rec, 20 yards
Bryant: 9 rec, 105 yards, 1 TD
Austin: 5 rec, 60 yards
Witten: 6 rec, 120 yards, 1TD
Ware: 4 tackles, 2 sacks
Carter: 11 tackles, 1 sack
Griffin: 24/35, 220 yards, 2 TD, 5 rush, 60 yards
Morris: 18 rush, 80 yards
Garcon: 5 rec, 80 yards, 2TD
Kerrigan: 2 sacks, 5 tackles