By Shawn Lealos
It might be time that Dallas Cowboys’ fans stop taking any games lightly. Heading into the Chicago Bears game, it was easy to see Dallas playing well against a backup quarterback and banged up defense, but the Bears blew out the Cowboys.
The next week, Dallas saw a prime chance to climb back into a first place tie with the Philadelphia Eagles thanks to the Green Bay Packers starting Matt Flynn, a quarterback that has disappointed almost every step of the way the last two years. There, the Packers had the best come-from-behind win that Dallas had seen in many years.
Now, Dallas gets the Washington Redskins and the third backup quarterback in a row to line up against the Cowboys. Dallas beat up the Redskins last time around, 31-16, but this Redskins team looks like it might be another stumbling block as Dallas tries desperately to remain within striking distance of the Eagles in the NFC East.
Last time that Dallas played the Redskins, Robert Griffin III was the starting quarterback and Dallas won thanks to Dwayne Harris’ 222 combined return yards, including an 86-yard punt return for a score and a 90-yard kick return that set up another score. This week, Dallas faces Kirk Cousins. Anyone who smiles at that fact forgets that Josh McCown and Matt Flynn beat Dallas the last two weeks.
Cousins came into his first start after Mike Shanahan shut down Griffin for the season with a lot riding against him. Even his own wide receiver Santana Moss said Cousins was being set up for failure. However, the quarterback responded with 381 passing yards and three touchdowns against the Atlanta Falcons. He also had two interceptions though, and the Redskins lost by one point when their two-point conversion failed with 18 seconds left in the game.
Regardless, Cousins led his Redskins back and almost sent the game into overtime, something that should send chills down Cowboys’ fans spines after the Packers did come back against Dallas on Sunday. There is no reason to think that Cousins won’t have another 300 yard passing game against Dallas, a team that hands them out to almost every quarterback they have faced.
Also on the Redskins offense is exciting running back Alfred Morris, who ran for 98 yards against the Falcons. In the last meeting with Dallas, Morris ran for 81 yards and a touchdown, and Dallas has gotten progressively worse as the season rolls on in stopping the run.
While Griffin has gotten a lot of the blame for the Redskins’ woes this season, and Mike Shanahan might be out of a job in three weeks, the defense of Washington has been mostly responsible for the team’s recent losses. Washington ranks 21st against the pass and 17th against the run. They did play decent against Atlanta, limiting Matt Ryan to 210 passing yards and one touchdown, and Steven Jackson to 38 yards and two touchdowns.
Dallas should find some nice holes in this defense in both the passing game and running game, if they choose to run the ball at all. The Cowboys match up well in this game, with DeMarco Murray having a great season, but with their reluctance to do anything but throw the ball, this game is one that could go either way, a perfect example of what the 2013 NFL season has felt like to most Dallas fans.
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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.