Redskins-Cowboys preview: Can they keep it going?

Redskins-Cowboys preview: Can they keep it going?
November 21, 2012, 9:15 am
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What: Redskins (4-6) vs. Cowboys (5-5)

Where: Cowboys Stadium; Arlington, Texas

When: Sunday, 4:15 p.m.

TV: Fox WTTG-5

Redskins Kickoff and Postgame Live: Comcast SportsNet at 3 p.m. and after the game.

Fresh off a season-preserving win over the Eagles, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins travel to Dallas on Thanksgiving seeking to move into a second place tie with the Cowboys in the NFC East.

“I hadn’t seen this team play as physical as they did this past Sunday,” Griffin said of the pivotal Philadelphia win. “It wasn’t perfect by any means, but there was a certain tenacity, a certain attitude that was brought to the game, and you could feel it.”

Griffin posted a perfect passer rating, tossing touchdowns to four different receivers and rushing for 84 yards – four more than the Eagles had combined. The Redskins did not turn the ball over for the third consecutive game and, in fact, only one of Griffin’s 15 passes fell incomplete.

“I threw it inside and [wide receiver Josh Morgan] was falling way to the sideline,” the standout rookie joked. “That’s all on me.”

Defensively, the Redskins were just as dominant, picking off rookie quarterback Nick Foles twice and sacking him four times. The 257 yards Washington yielded were the fewest by an opponent in 15 games.

The Redskins hope their inspired effort against the Eagles provided the spark that’s eluded them for much of the season.

The Cowboys, however, aren’t the Eagles. And, like the Redskins, they’re also coming off a season-saving triumph. 

Tony Romo rallied the Cowboys from a 13-0 deficit to beat the Browns, 23-20, in overtime Sunday.

Although Romo has seen his share of struggles this season – he has as many touchdown passes as interceptions (13) – the Cowboys are still flush with weapons. Wide receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin rank 14 and 15th in yards with 735 and 727 yards, respectively, while tight end Jason Witten has 636 yards receiving. Against Cleveland, Bryant hauled in a career best 12 receptions for 145 yards.

Pressuring Romo with blitzes and line stunts and preventing long pass completions will be the primary task for a Redskins’ defense that has suffered another devastating injury. Safety Brandon Meriweather was lost for the season to a knee injury, further depleting a unit that, until last week, has struggled in coverage and routinely yielded too many big plays.

Washington, however, could benefit from injuries to Dallas’s starting left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) and best running back DeMarco Murray (foot). Neither is expected to suit up.

The Cowboys’ defense, meantime, has been the team’s strength throughout this inconsistent season – even if it looked shaky at times against Brandon Weedon and the Browns.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware leads a unit that ranks seventh in yards allowed per game (318). Ware has 10 sacks, which ranks fourth in the league. 

While both teams are playing on short rest, the Cowboys didn’t have to travel and will have all the comforts of home. The Redskins, though, run an unorthodox offense that requires to time to prepare for – time Dallas Coach Jason Garrett wishes he had more of this week.

“You’d rather have more time than less, there’s no question about that, particularly when you’re facing [Griffin] and the scheme they’re using is a little bit different than you see every week,” Garrett said. “We just have to prepare as best we can as quickly as we can.” 

Here are three more storylines the crew at www.csnwashington.com will be following:

1--Will Fletcher suit up and extend his streak? The 37-year-old has played in 234 consecutive games, which is tied for the most among active players. But a sprained left ankle that Fletcher suffered against the Eagles is threatening his ironman status. 

Fletcher, who leads the Redskins with 84 tackles, said he doesn’t anticipate “testing” the ankle until pregame warm-up at Cowboys Stadium. He did not practice Monday or Tuesday.

“There is a reason why he has played all those games,” Coach Mike Shanahan said, “because he plays when he is hurt.” 

2--Will the Redskins be more disciplined? They crushed the a reeling Eagles’ team Sunday despite being flagged a season-high 13 penalties, including five false starts. That’s inexcusable and the mental miscues will eventually cost them a game – if it hasn’t already.

Washington leads the NFL in penalties per game at 8.8. Dallas, meantime, is a close second at 8.4.

“It’s something we have to get better at,” Coach Mike Shanahan said.

3--For the second week in a row, the Redskins can end a drought. Against the Eagles, they snapped an eight game losing streak against rookie quarterbacks and won their first game coming out of a bye week for the first time since 2007.

On Sunday, they can end a six game losing streak to the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. The Redskins’ first loss to the Cowboys on turkey day was in 1968; the most recent was a 27-20 loss in 2002.

Washington's last win on Thanksgiving came in 1973, a 20-0 victory over the Lions.