The Dallas Cowboys blew a game on Monday night to the team from Washington, 20-17. Washington deserved to win because they executed while the Cowboys looked like the 2013 Dallas Cowboys, not the version we have seen this year. A perfect example came in overtime when the Cowboys started a drive with a DeMarco Murray run for eight yards to set up a second and two. Then Dallas decided they would throw the ball on three consecutive plays even though the Washington blitz had been killing the Cowboys. Shades of 2013 Dallas, not 2014. The defense also resorted back to previous form by missing numerous tackles that could have swayed the momentum of the game. The Dallas offensive line and Scott Linehan could never figure out how to make Washington pay for their numerous blitzes as the Cowboys offense looked disjointed. In a game where Murray ran for 141 yards, the Cowboys passed more than they ran the ball. Somehow, even though they had won six straight games, they still haven't learned their lesson.
The big news of the night besides the loss was the injury to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Dallas had trouble picking up the Washington blitz all night. On multiple occasions the Cowboys left rushers with free paths to Romo. On one such play in the third quarter he took a knee to the back and then was twisted as the sack was completed. Romo spent a few minutes on the turf before gingerly limping off to the locker room. Brandon Weeden came on and put up 10 points for the Cowboys but Romo returned for the last drive of the fourth quarter and overtime.
The Cowboys first half was a sloppy affair. Even though they were able to get the running game going somewhat, in many of the other phases of the game they failed. The Cowboys put the ball on the ground twice. Once by Joseph Randle who was finishing up a nice run when he fumbled. Later DeMarco Murray caught a pass and was fighting for extra yardage at the Redskins five yard line when he fumbled.
Tony Romo started the game a little too pumped as his passes were sailing high and he wasn't the ruthlessly efficient passer he has been this season outside of the first game. He started to settle down as the half wore on but the Cowboys ran into a third problem. The Washington defense was able to blitz its way into pressure and sacked Romo three times on third downs, killing Dallas drives. The offense was saved by one nice drive that was capped off with a Dez Bryant touchdown that was pure effort by the Cowboys receiver.
The inconsistent play from the Dallas offense put a lot of pressure on the Cowboys defense but they held firm. Outside of giving up a field goal as a result of a long punt return and a missed tackle on pass play, the Cowboys defense shut down the Washington offense. J.J. Wilcox came up with an interception int he end zone to bail Dallas out after one of the Cowboys turnovers. Henry Melton got a sack that helped kill another drive after Washington hurt themselves with a penalty. Justin Durant was particularly active in shutting down the Washington run game.
In the second half the Cowboys defense gave up a long drive to Washington for a touchdown. The Cowboys countered with a field goal but once again they blew their opportunity for a touchdown. Dallas had second and goal at the Washington three yard line but decided to pass it twice instead of relying on DeMarco Murray. Washington then went on another long drive and scored a touchdown to go up 17-10. Brandon Weeden answered back with a touchdown drive of his own that set the game up for overtime. In overtime, the Cowboys defense gave up a field goal after numerous failings at getting Washington off the field on third down.
The Cowboys had a good run of six straight wins, but fell apart in this game by not adhering to the formula that had gotten them the wins. The offense decided to pass more than it should have and didn't rely on Murray at critical junctures in the game. The defense wasn't awful, but they missed numerous tackles and had trouble getting off the field on third downs. The health of Romo is a question going into next week, and the Cowboys are on a short week with a huge game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.