The Cowboys lost a game in which they had some peculiar advantages:
First downs: Dallas 27; Washington 19
Total yards: Dallas 512; Washington 437
Yards per play: Dallas 7.5; Washington 6.9
Of course, these were all accrued in garbage time, as Kellen Moore and his offensive mates came back against a generous prevent defense for the game's final 45:19 after Washington.
45: the number of first-quarter points allowed by the Cowboys' defense in games 1-15. On Sunday, they gave up 21 points after twice turning the ball over and watching Kirk Cousins complete 8-of-10 passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns. On the next Redskins possession, Cousins went 4-5 for another 62 yards as he led the 'Skins to the field goal that gave them a 24-0 cushion, and he was finished for the day. So were many other of Washington's better players; in their absence, some big but very empty things happened...
435: Kellen Moore's total passing yards on the afternoon, the highest total of the season, and the top mark since Tony Romo's Cowboys-record 505 yard effort in that infamous 51-48 loss to Denver in 2013. Indeed, it proved to be the 6th-highest passing total in the Cowboys' 56-year history - and it would have been higher had the Cowboys been able to stop the Redskins on their final drive, which ate up the game's final 4:18. Had Moore and his receivers had another shot at at the 12-yard cushions against which they piled up their stats on Sunday, he could well have surpassed Romo, Meredith, and Aikman on the list of 400+-yard passing performances. All three terrific QBs should thank the inept Cowboys defense for keeping their deserved records intact and not surrendering them to one forgettable member of Dallas' gallery of scrubeenies.
7: number of weeks since the Dallas offense scored 20 or more points after tallying 21 on the afternoon (a fourth-quarter safety added the other two points). Dallas scored 20+ points for the first time since their 24-14 win over the Dolphins in Romo's return from his first collarbone injury. Of course, that game included a Rolando McClain pick-six, so the three touchdowns scored on the afternoon marked the first time the Cowboys achieved that feat since November 8 against the Eagles.
Indeed, when we look at that second Eagles game, it stands out as an aberration. In a stretch of 12 games since the week three tilt against the Falcons, that was the lone instance wherein the Dallas offense managed more than two touchdowns. And consider this: all three instances in weeks 4-16 wherein the Cowboys scored 20 or more offensive points - games against the Saints, Giants and Eagles - all required ridiculous catches for that to happen: Terrance Williams' 17-yard fourth down diving grab in New Orleans; Devin Street's ridiculous toe-tapper in New York; Dez Bryant's leaping grab of a Matt Cassel alley-oop to tie the second Eagles game.
In short, scoring 20 or more points required highlight catches in 2015...
173: Terrance Williams' receiving yards versus Washington, the highest total of his career; the only other 100+-yard regular season game of his life came in the aforementioned 2013 game versus the Broncos, when he compiled 151 receiving yards, most of it on an 82-yard scoring pass from Romo. Like Moore, Williams piled up historic numbers by exploiting 12-yard cushions against 45 minutes of prevent defense. Williams' totals before Kirk Cousins in the first quarter? one reception for 19 yards.
2: the number of interceptions on the season by Jeff Heath, which leads the team in 2015. And he's not tied for the team lead; six other players have a single pick. And none of them are a starting cornerback. And that leads to the following...
-4: The Cowboys turnover margin on Sunday, the second time this season they have achieved that ignominious distinction (the other was the game against the Giants in New York). Another ignominious distinction? Sunday's total gives Dallas the NFL's worst turnover margin, a shockingly bad minus-22, which is the league's lowest total since the Chiefs and Eagles both sported -24s in 2012. Other than those, it's the worst finishing turnover differential since the Raiders -23 in 2006. One of the reasons for this is the following:
11: defensive takeaways on the year, tying the NFL record for fewest in a 16-game season. Think about that for a bit: in the annals of bad teams and pathetic defenses, the 2015 Cowboys sit as the worst in the long history of defensive ineptitude. Some of that has to do with bad fortune, of course. To wit: both teams had two fumbles; the Redskins recovered both of theirs, and both Kellen Moore's and Darren McFaddens' respective oopsies were considered turnovers (with one being D-MAC's fumble through the end zone). Studies have shown that better teams tend to collect more interceptions but that fumbles - and especially fumble recoveries - are largely a matter of luck. Sunday's fumble recoveries underscored this.
4: Darren McFadden's touchdowns on the season. D-MAC's fumble out of the end zone kept him from from tying the Cowboys team TD lead of four, which is still held by Joseph Randle, who was released on November 4th. November 4th! And here's what's crazy: McFadden had two touchdowns the day Randle was released...
-50.7: the negative quarterback Passer Rating Differential (PRD) for the game, the sixth game in a row in which the Cowboys' QB has suffered from a 20+ point deficit and the third time this season they have been on the receiving end of a -50 differential. As I noted several times earlier in the season, the reason that O.C.C. can claim PRD is the "Robitussin of stats" is that it strongly correlates to wins. Running the average differential after each game through our regression formula (PRD*0.16+8), we can see that the Cowboys' expected win total has taken a nosedive since late September. We've done this several times this season; here's the final iteration:
|Game||Cowboys PR||Opponent PR||PRD||Expected Wins|
|NY Giants II
As this chart makes clear, the Cowboys, after a stellar opening in which Tony Romo (and, in relief, Brandon Weeden) outplayed the competition mightily, and a brief interlude when they outpaced the Eagles and Bucs in anticipation of Romo's return, the Cowboys fell to the 5-7 win range and have floundered about in that area for about two months. Here's a nasty stat for you: in their final six games, the Cowboys PRD translated to a 1.8-win team. Shameful, I say!
1: The number of home victories for the Cowboys in 2015. The lone win was in game one, when it took a colossal brainfart by Eli Manning for Tony Romo and Co. to pry victory from defeat's jaws. As you have probably heard from Dallas-area media wags, Alabama won more games in AT&T Stadium this year. The 1-7 2015 gives the Cowboys a 27-29 record in the Jerry Jones Deathstar since it opened in 2009.
That's nowhere near a homefield advantage. In fact, only eight teams have a worse record at home than the Cowboys 27-29 since 2009, and they're all annual bottom-feeders:
Jacksonville, Washington, St. Louis: 23-33
Tennessee, Oakland: 22-34
Tampa Bay: 17-39
In case you were wondering, the teams at the top of the list are New England (51-5); Baltimore (42-14); and Green Bay (41-14-1). Those teams average a nice 6-2 home record every season.
4: The number of picks the Cowboys might have in the draft's first first 103 selections. As its presently constituted, Dallas owns the fourth, 34th and 67th picks. They also will have the third selection in the fourth round, but it could conceivably be bumped a bit by another team's compensatory pick at the end of round three.
Here, thanks to O.C.C. (really, what isn't?), here are the expected Cowboys picks.
There will be some terrific opportunities for the Cowboys to add talent this offseason. Because of that, Cowboys talk suddenly becomes enjoyable again. So breathe in, release all the disappointment from the 2015's Bataan Death March and start studying the list of available free agents, bookmark your favorite draft sites, and prepare to hype the 2016 Cowboys...