The storied rivalry between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys took center stage on Monday night as Washington hosted Dallas for a prime-time NFC East match-up that carried playoff implications. After a second consecutive New York Giants loss, a victory would have given the Redskins sole possession of first place. Many commentators predicted that Washington would rise to the occasion, and selected them to win the game. Unfortunately, under the pressure and bright lights of Monday Night Football, they crumbled.
The first half of the game was ugly. Both teams struggled to establish any type of offense, scoring just a field goal apiece at the end of two quarters. Kirk Cousins — who many expected to have a breakout game — was sacked twice on Washington’s first possession and was unable to find the end zone until the final seconds of the game.
The Redskins overall, were ineffective. They managed just 73 yards on the ground, and Cousins was unable to lead them to lead them to the end zone until the final seconds of the game. The Redskins QB went 22 of 31 for 219 yards, and though he didn’t turn the ball over, that wasn’t the recipe for the success it’s had in past games.
Though Dallas didn’t look much better — their quarterback, Matt Cassell, went just 16 of 29 for 222 yards — they were able to walk away with the “W” thanks to a botched punt return and successful final drive. After a DeSean Jackson fumble set the Cowboys up for the first touchdown of the game with 1 1/2 minutes left, Jackson found redemption seconds later by catching a deep throw by Cousins in the end zone to tie the game once again.
With the game tied 16-16 and just 44 seconds left in the game, Cassell was able to move his team into Redskins territory to set up the game-winning 54-yard field goal and snap the Redskins’ five-game home win streak.
“Well, it didn’t end up the way we wanted it to,” coach Jay Gruden said of the final play.
With the loss, the Skins drop to 5-7 and join the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles in a three-way tie for first place. At 4-8, Dallas trail them by just one game, still in contention for the division despite a seven-game losing streak earlier this season. The NFC East is up for grabs, and as of now, the winner wouldn’t even have a winning record.
With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Redskins have their work cut out for them. They next face the Chicago Bears (5-7) and Buffalo Bills (6-6), before ending the season with games against Philadelphia and Dallas. If the Redskins hope to remain relevant in December for the first time since 2012, they will have to find a way to not just play better, but win games.
A little over 24 hours after John Wall injured himself in the final minute of the Wizards’ home loss to Dallas after colliding with a Mavericks’ player, he was on the court at American Airlines Arena in Miami for Washington’s match-up against the Heat.
Wall, who initially refused to look at his MRI results, made a game-time decision to play on Monday, despite still being bruised. “I’m probably one of the toughest people you’ll see,” the point guard said. “I’m a competitor. I can’t say if it wasn’t broke I wouldn’t play, because I did that before, but it was just a time that we really want to play well.”
Wall had a game-high 26 points, 10 of which game in the fourth quarter to lift Washington 114-103 over the heat. “When I step up and play well, this team has been better,” Wall said. “And that’s what I’ve been doing lately, giving ourselves a chance to win.” Bradley Beal and Gary Neal added 21 apiece, with Beal acknowledging his teammate’s dedication.
“When you look at an injury like that, it’s like ‘Ugh,” Beal said of Wall. “But he’s a warrior. He’s a soldier at the end of the day. I knew he would be back when we were texting. Knowing him, I knew he would be hardheaded and play.”