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Dallas posts second-best score of the season given up by Redskins defense

Tim's picture

This was not Romo's best game. He missed some open receivers – badly –  and didn't generate a lot of successful drives for half the game.
It was not the offensive line's best game, giving up four sacks and not generating much of a push for the running backs.
It was not the running backs' best game, ending up with about three yards per carry.
It was definitely not the defense's best game, giving up an 89 yard drive for the tying score to the Rex Grossman-led Redskins at the end of regulation, after snuffing consecutive drives before that. Then giving up what could well have been the winning drive in overtime, save for a missed 52 yard field goal attempt.
It was maybe the special teams' worst game this year. A holding penalty on a punt return that pinned Dallas on its own 5, followed by a shanked punt that set up Washington on the Dallas 32, leading to a touchdown. On the very next punt, they gave up a long return, setting up Washington for another short TD drive beginning in Dallas territory. Another long punt return in the second half led to no points, but was still a terrible performance by the special teams unit.
But sometime in the third quarter, following a Graham Gano miss on a 49 yard attempt, a light came on. Dallas drove 61 yards for a vintage Romo play, spinning away from pressure to find Laurent Robinson in the end zone. It was a play we'd see again on a few more key plays. On the next Dallas possession, from the Dallas 41, Romo again slipped pressure, rolling out to his left and finding a wide open Witten for a 59 yard score, putting Dallas ahead 24-17. Another fourth quarter comeback? Not so fast. 
The defense snuffed out one drive with heavy pressure on Grossman, and another with an Orlando Scandrick interception. But for the first time in three weeks, Dallas couldn't run out the clock, and Washington got the ball back, and drove the field for the tying score.
On the winning drive in overtime, disaster lurked. A false start on 3d and 10 from midfield pushed Dallas back to 3d and 15. At the snap, the Redskins pass rush was strong, but once again Romo twisted out of trouble, this time finding Dez Bryant for a 26 yard gain, putting Dallas in field goal position. Dan Bailey, the only bright spot on special teams today, made his 24th straight field goal, winning his second 27-24 overtime game on the road.
During some post-game chatter on the radio, I heard somebody say that the last few weeks, the running game has really helped Romo, but today he won the game without that help. And that we should be concerned because 37 pass attempts is too much.
Romo has averaged 34.5 attempts per game for his career. Thirty-seven attempts in an overtime game in the 2011 NFL is not at all high. Dallas ran the ball 32 times. That was a balanced offense. Despite the low per carry average, Garrett stuck with the run, even when the team was down by 7 in the third quarter. Teams that run the ball win more games. It is often as closely related to the number of carries as the per carry average, and today there is no question that the running game helped this team win. Garrett called a good game, and Murray turned in a workhorse performance, grinding out every yard he could get for 25 carries.
Martellus Bennett was a nice surprise today, making a nice one-handed grab for a first down, and later converting a first down with some hard running in overtime. I rip the guy when he messes up – I ought to point it out when he makes a play.
The bottom line, once again, is that there are no moral defeats. Dallas is only the second team this year to score more than 23 points against the Redskins defense. They're pretty good. And this was a rivalry game against a team that almost always plays Dallas close. I promise you that right now Redskins fans are saying , "These guys always find a way to lose." 
Dallas fans are celebrating a win.