While Washington Redskins and their fans had much to be thankful for last Thursday, a victory wasn’t one of them. The Thanksgiving Day matchup set the surging Redskins against their most hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys. While the Skins had back to back victories heading into the game, the Cowboys hadn’t lost since Week 1. A fourth quarter rally wasn’t enough to put the Redskins ahead, and they fell 31-26 to Dallas, who improved to 10-1.
With the loss, the Redskins (6-4-1) have now been swept by the Cowboys this season and fell to 3 1/2 games to their division rival with five games left in the season.
“We’ve been in third place for a while, so we have to understand where we are, what it’s going to take to get an opportunity to come back here in the future,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “The last five games of the year are critical.”
After falling behind 17-6 at the break, the Redskins mounted a second-half comeback. But despite 449 yards and three touchdowns by quarterback Kirk Cousins, Washington was unable to overcome the earlier deficit. After pulling within five on their last possession, the Redskins’ onside kick attempt was recovered by Dallas, who ran out the clock.
Dustin Hopkins was a central figure in the Redskins’ loss as the kicker missed two first-half field goals that may have changed the course and outcome of the game. Hopkins now has five misses in the last five games, which is far less impressive than his 12/12 season start.
Despite the mishaps, coach Gruden seems to have his back.
“I don’t have any thought that he’s going to wilt down the stretch,” the Washington coach said. I think he’s going to be fine.”
The Redskins next play the Arizona Cardinals (4-6-1) who could spoil their chances for the No. 6 seed in the NFC. While the Skins are currently the front runners, they face stiff competition from the Buccaneers, Vikings, and Eagles, along with other teams like the Cards who are long shots but still alive.
If the reigning NFC East titleholders want to return to the playoffs, as the season winds down they will have to prove they belong.
The Washington Capitals struggled in their 4-2 loss to the Toronto Mapleleafs on Saturday evening.
“We didn’t look like the Washington Capitals out there at all,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “Completely embarrassed by a young team. It’s not acceptable in our culture here. We’re going to have to be better. Every one of us. It was completely embarrassing.”
Toronto (9-8-4) held the Caps scoreless through the first two periods and extended their lead to 3-0 when Auston Matthews scored 22 seconds into the third. Washington finally got the on board a little over nine minutes later when Nicklas Backstrom had an unassisted goal. But the Maple Leafs scored a fourth time just a couple minutes later, extending their lead once again.
Marcus Johansson, assisted by Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, scored a second Washington goal at the end of the period, but by then the game was already out of reach.
“It was a game where it ended up 4-2, and we didn’t deserve to be anywhere close to that,” Holtby said.
While it was a frustrating and disappointing game for Washington, it was only their second loss in six games. The Caps (13-6-2), are having a relatively good season–but if they want to redeem their early playoff exit last season, they will have to be better.