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Redskins Wrangle Cowboys 20-17 In Nail-Biting, Defensive Divisional Affair

The Redskins beat their most heated NFC East rival, and recording their first winning streak of 2018.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

In a statement victory over one of their longest-standing rivals, the Washington Redskins defeated the Dallas Cowboys 20-17 in Landover to improve to 4-2, and a game and a half up in the NFC East. Dallas dropped to 3-4 with the loss.

The Washington defense forced the Cowboys to go three-and-out on their opening drive and gave Alex Smith and the Redskins offense possession right near midfield. The unit moved quickly, moving 52 yards on six plays, capped off by a 23-yard screen pass, catch-and-run by Kapri Bibbs to give the Redskins a 7-0 lead with 10:19 left in the first quarter.

After threatening on the ensuing drive on 4th-and-1 from their own 44 yard line, DJ Swearinger jarred the football lose from Ezekiel Elliott and scooped it up, giving the Redskins their first turnover of the afternoon.

Washington was unable to convert much of anything on the following drive, a hard hit on Dak Prescott put him in concussion protocol, but he was able to return without missing any snaps. Both teams continued to trade possessions with five straight punts, before Michael Gallup got free on a double move against Greg Stroman down the sideline for a 49-yard trot into the end zone to tie the game with just one minute remaining in the opening half. Alex Smith tested the Cowboys secondary on four long pass attempts, including a Hail Mary that hit Michael Floyd in the chest in the end zone to end the second quarter.

Through one half of play Smith was 7-of-15 for 87 yards and a touchdown, while Prescott went 12-of-15 for 149 yards and a matching score. The Redskins defense held Elliot to just 13 yards on 10 carries, while Adrian Peterson had 39 yards on 11 rushes.

Washington started quickly moving 52 yards on six plays, mostly on the back of Adrian Peterson in the rushing game.

However the Cowboys defense held inside the 10-yard line and Washington was forced to settle for a 21-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead.

The teams once again traded punts and Washington advanced into Cowboys territory as the third quarter elapsed, extending their streak of not scoring in the 3rd quarter to 11 straight games. Dallas also struggled in the stanza, not picking up a first down in the quarter.

Another long run by Peterson moved the Redskins inside the ten, but for the second consecutive time the Cowboys defense held and Dustin Hopkins settled for a 25-yard field goal to give Washington a 13-7 lead. Over the Redskins first eight offensive drives, they moved into Cowboys territory on six occasions but only came away with 13 points. The Cowboys advanced 46 yards on 6 plays, but settled for a 47-yard field goal by Brett Maher, to bring Dallas back to within three. with under 10 minutes to go in the game.

Washington moved to their own 45 yard line before punting it away with 6:19 remaining, penalties backed the Cowboys up to their own ten yard line, before Ryan Kerrigan forced the ball loose from Prescott at the goal line, and Preston Smith promptly picked it up to take it in for the defensive score, making it 20-10.

The score was only the Redskins second-half touchdown of the year, and the first score of 2018 for the defense.

Dak Prescott would not go quietly, moving quickly into Redskins territory with two long runs that brought the Cowboys into the red zone as the clock hit the two minute warning. A defensive holding by Josh Harvey-Clemmons in the end zone gave the Cowboys first and goal from the six, before Prescott rushed in for the score to make it 20-17 with 1:37 remaining in the 4th.

After three straight rushes, Washington went three-and-out and stopped the ball out of bounds. A short punt gave the Cowboys the ball back with 1:09 on the clock and 64 yards in front of them. Dallas advanced into ‘Skins territory, and with three seconds left in regulation a five-yard illegal ball movement penalty prior to the snap turned a 48-yard try into a a 52-yard attempt, which Maher booted off the left upright to secure the Redskins win.

Alex Smith played the role of consummate game manager, and went 14 of 25 for 178 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions, his second game in a row without a turnover.

Kapri Bibbs had a coming out party of sorts, filling in once again for the injured Chris Thompson. Bibbs played a significant role in the rushing and passing game with four carries for 16 yards, and four grabs for 43 yards and a touchdown through the air, Jordan Reed also chipped in with 43 yards on just two catches.

Washington’s leading rusher was Adrian Peterson, who tallied 99 yards on 24 carries for 4.1 yards per carry.

On defense, the Redskins contained the Cowboys potent offensive weapons, holding Ezekiel Elliott to 34 yards on 15 carries, while Dak Prescott finished with a passing line of 22 35 for 273 yards, no interceptions with one passing and one rushing touchdown apiece. The play of the day was from Ryan Kerrigan who forced the fumble that led to the game-clinching score by Preston Smith. Zach Brown led the way with nine total tackles with one for a loss, Mason Foster also tallied nine hits, while the defense recorded four sacks, three TFL’s, and nine quarterback hits.

The win cements the Redskins in first place in the NFC East, and marks their first back-to-back wins since December 24, 2017. In fact, the victory guarantees that no matter what, Washington will be in first place in the NFC East through week 9 for the first time since 1999.

It also marks the Redskins’ first against the Cowboys since January 3, 2016, and ends a four-game skid against their division rival.

Up next for Washington, another divisional rival: the last-place New York Giants. After an inconsistent start to the season, Washington now has put themselves in the drivers seat to build momentum as they seek to return to the playoffs for the first time in Jay Gruden’s tenure.

Perhaps most significantly, this can be characterized as a statement victory for the Redskins as they knocked off their heated rivals at home with a feel-good week head.