clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys vs. Redskins Game Ball: Defense and special teams dominate on TNF

Who gets this week’s game ball in the 38-14 divisional win?

NFL: Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys are finally back in the win-column after a frustrating three-game drought. The team, aside from the opening quarter, rediscovered the mojo that they had before Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension and Sean Lee’s injury that has kept them out of this frustrating stretch. Dak Prescott was able to use his feet, and connect with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten for TDs, while Alfred Morris and Rod Smith each reached the end zone on the ground. The three weeks of scoring less than 10 points is now over. This was a much-needed victory to get back on track before the final road of games coming up for America’s Team.

The Cowboys were able to get back on top thanks in large part to the contributions from the defense and on special teams. These two units helped carry the load until the offense was finally able to breakthrough.

Four takeaways including an interception by Anthony Brown to put the icing on the cake late in the game, sacks from Demarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton, and David Irving, a punt return touchdown, a couple of passing TDs, dominant line play on both sides of the ball, and two rushing scores while the ground game was taking over and eating up clock late - this was the Cowboys football we wanted to see all year. It took a quarter to emerge, and the offensive production was not exactly overwhelming, but for the first time in a month, Dallas looked like a competitive NFL team.

The play from the defense was nothing short of phenomenal on Thursday night against Kirk Cousin and the rival Redskins. Rod Marinelli’s unit came to play in a must-win game in front of a national audience against a quarterback capable of putting up big time numbers through the air. That is a huge development for this team moving forward.

The Redskins, notably down a few offensive lineman — though Trent Williams did start at left tackle, struggled to contain the Cowboys’ pass rush led by Lawrence, Irving, and Tyrone Crawford. The trio combined for eight tackles, three TFLs, and three sacks — two from perhaps the best defensive end in all of football at the moment.

Linebacker Anthony Hitchens stepped up big time in Lee’s absence on Thursday evening. Hitch led the team in tackles with 15, including 12 solo and three TFLs. Safety Kavon Frazier added six tackles and one TFL, and Jaylon Smith contributed with five tackles of his own. Oh, and Jeff Heath grabbed a pick that prevented a Washington touchdown!

The biggest story of the night, though, was the play of the 2017 rookies.

The first-year players grew up under the bright lights in a game that was really make-or-break in terms of the Cowboys’ outside playoff hopes. Taco Charlton had the best game of his career. The former Michigan Wolverines end added two tackles, but he also got to Kirk Cousins once and forced a fumble.

Furthermore, Chidobe Awuzie played out of his mind in his first career professional start. Because of nagging injuries that has plagued much of his rookie season, this was the first real chance that we got to see #33 in a big role for the defense. He rose to the challenge. In his first start, Chido recorded three total tackles and defected three passes on the night. He was constantly making plays on the ball and refusing his man to beat him, something that we have wanted Scandrick and Brown to do all season.

But, perhaps the biggest play of the day came from a rookie that does not play on defense.

Ryan Switzer was brought in to make an impact on special teams for the Cowboys; unfortunately, the rookie out of North Carolina has had his struggles this season.

However, Switz stepped up when he had the opportunity to — in a huge way.

That play gave the Cowboys a 17-point cushion in a very critical contest. Way to make a big, game-changing play when your number is called, Switz.

The defense and the special teams unit both earn this week’s game ball!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys