Grading the Redskins: Defense does enough in Big D

Grading the Redskins: Defense does enough in Big D
November 25, 2012, 10:30 am
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The Mike Shanahan exclusive: "We're in control of our own destiny"

Defense

Grade vs. Cowboys: B-

Comment: A week after limiting the Eagles to six points, the Redskins’ defense appeared to be on its way to another stellar performance at Cowboys Stadium.

The unit limited Tony Romo and the Cowboys to only three points in the first half, forcing two turnovers that Robert Griffin III and the offense promptly parlayed into a pair of touchdowns. But that strong start unraveled in the second half as Romo led the Cowboys to scores on five of seven possessions, including three touchdowns, to force the Redskins to sweat it out.

The Redskins’ primary issue was a familiar one: big plays. The biggest, of course, was Dez Bryant's 85-yard touchdown in the third quarter that trimmed Dallas’ deficit to 28-13. Cornerback Josh Wilson jammed Bryant off the line, but the powerful wide receiver cut across the field as Romo was flushed from the pocket. Romo fired the ball on the run, and Wilson gambled and dived but missed the ball. After hauling it in, Bryant received a block from Dwayne Harris on safety DeJon Gomes and as he raced untouched into the end zone.

On the Cowboys' first drive of the half, the secondary surrendered a 33-yard pass play to Felix Jones, who shook would-be tacklers Wilson and Madieu Williams for his longest play of the season. The drive ended in a field goal.

In the fourth quarter, Harris found a seam in the Redskins’ soft zone and hauled in a perfectly-placed pass by Romo and took it 36 yards. It was more of a good play by the Cowboys rather than bad coverage by the Redskins, but the result was another touchdown five plays later.

All in all, the Redskins' opportunistic effort (three turnovers, two sacks) proved good enough. But just barely.

There were, however, a couple of injury concerns that bear watching. Linebacker London Fletcher did not play on the Cowboys’ final two series because of a lingering left ankle injury, while his replacement, Keenan Robinson, suffered a pectoral muscle injury. Shanahan said Robinson’s injury could be season-ending; an update should be available Monday.