By Nick Clarke
The Dallas Cowboys picked up a crucial division win on the road against the New York Giants, and with the win the Cowboys are now 4-0 in the division. The way the Cowboys were able to secure this win was way out of character, as they raced out to an early lead they eventually let the Giants even things up with just less than five minutes to play. The ability for Tony Romo and the Cowboys to find a way to lose has been the theme of the 2013 season, and with five minutes left they reversed the trend with Romo engineering a brilliant game winning drive. The drive kept the Cowboys’ season on track and certainly highlighted the rediscovery of the Romo to Dez Bryant connection. If the Cowboys are going to have any shot to be competitive against the big boys in the NFL in January it will come from the arm of Romo and the hands of Bryant.
The Giants found themselves trailing the Cowboys by 15 points with seven minutes to play in the third quarter in a must win game, and managed to make things interesting. The Giants’ furious attempt at a comeback, that was oh so close, displayed the team’s undeniable will; you can never count this team out, no matter what the circumstances. Although the loss put the Giants’ playoff chances close to nothing, they outgained the Cowboys in total yards and their running game looked phenomenal. Andre Brown gashed the Dallas defense for 127 yards on the ground, while Brandon Jacobs added another 75 yards rushing. The Giants certainly need a miracle to get back into the division race, but they definitely have the potential to pull one off.
The Redskins lost their third straight game on Monday night and they have fully played themselves out of any chance for the playoffs. The Redskins can start looking ahead to next year, nothing positive to report from Shanahan’s ballclub.
The Cowboys were able to grab an early lead, yet they allowed the Giants to come right back. Dallas’ defense showed up in big moments, stopping the Giants twice on fourth down, but throughout the night they could not stop the run. The Dallas defense allowed 356 total yards, which is an improvement from the last couple of weeks, but still not close to where they want to be. The defense is last in the league in total yardage allowed, 2nd to last in passing yardage allowed per game, and 3rd to last in rushing yardage allowed per game. The defense can’t rely on turnovers and big stops for the rest of the season and for the Cowboys to take hold of the division the defense will have to step up.
The Giants couldn’t finish the job. They tied it up with less than five minutes to play, yet after all that trash talk from their defensive players, especially Terrell Thomas, who said, “We’re going to win this game…put it on the bulletin board”, they couldn’t make a stop. The defense was able to contain and bother Dez Bryant throughout the game, but when it mattered most the defense and especially Prince Amukamara and Terrell Thomas had no answer for Bryant and the Cowboys.
Robert Griffin III completed 17 of his 27 attempts for 127 yards with an interception and no touchdowns, compiling an embarrassingly low passer rating of 58.7 and QBR of 4.7 in the process. There are many excuses for RGIII’s poor play this year whether it be questionable play calling, horrible offensive line play, the health of his knee, or the lack of offensive weapons around him, they are just excuses at the end of the day. The Redskins go as RGIII goes, so it’s important they find out what’s causing the problem and deal with it accordingly because this season highlighted RGIII’s inability to play through the excuses.
Miles Austin was held to one catch for 17 yards in his second return from an injury this season. In Austin’s first return from injury he was held without a catch for two straight games before being shut down to have time to rest and come back completely healthy. Austin is completely healthy now, yet he is still dropping passes right and left and struggling to find a way to get open. Austin needs to contribute in some way to take pressure of Bryant and Witten, especially when both of them are receiving most of the attention from the opposing defenses.
The Giants had two opportunities to put three points on the board, but opted to try to extend the drive hoping to put seven points on the board. The Giants failed on both fourth down conversions and not only did they fail, it looked as though no one knew what to do in two of the most important plays of a season defining game. Seeing as the Cowboys only won by three points, it’s questionable why Tom Coughlin chose to make such a risky decision with so much time to play. Whether it was poor coaching or poor execution by the players, the Giants jeopardized their season with a few silly mental mistakes.
Robert Griffin III’s disagreement with his receiving corps seems to just have been just a blown up story, but the tension between RGIII and Mike and Kyle Shanahan is all too real. The tension started in the preseason with RGIII’s disagreement over Mike Shanahan’s timetable for RGIII’s return and it has grown ever since. Tension is the last thing you want to hear between a coach and a quarterback or an offensive coordinator and a quarterback, and the Redskins may be forced to part ways with the Shanahan’s because of this. Hopefully it doesn’t end like the Dwight Howard and Steve Van Gundy charade.