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Commanders defense played hard, but offense couldn’t score; Washington falls to 1-3

Another non-victory Monday

Washington Commanders v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Jack Del Rio’s defense, aside from a couple of big plays and several bad penalties, played well against the Cowboys in Week 4, but the offense simply couldn’t sustain drives, and ended up scoring just 10 points

Washington had no problem running the ball early. Trai Turner continued to struggle in this game, and he was replaced by Saahdiq Charles, who seemed to play pretty competently.

At the time the Commanders scored their first TD, the three RBs had 12 carries for 94 yards (7.8 ypc). Gibson’s long run was 11 yards, Williams was 18 yards, and McKissic’s was 33 yards – the three players were averaging 6.0, 7.7, and 11.7 yards per carry, respectively.

The passing game was not working, however, with Wentz throwing for 45 yards and a TD on 11 attempts. Gibson was the leading receiver in the first half with 14 yards on 3 catches Terry had just 15 yards; Dotson just 10. In short, Washington’s offensive success was all in the running game.

The defense was playing well, holding the Cowboys to just 2 field goals on the first 4 drives despite several big plays for the Cowboys. In one drive, Cee Dee Lamb caught 3 straight passes for three 1st downs, totaling 56 yards on those three plays, but the drive ended in a field goal. The Cowboys running game had no traction (overall average of 3.5 ypc) with a long of 9 yards by Tony Pollard.

Elliott, however had a 31 yard catch & run.

The Cowboys scored their first TD with 1:04 remaining in the half, but the PAT was blocked, resulting in a score of 12-7.

At halftime:

· 10 first downs for Dallas; 8 for Washington.

· 180 total yards for Dallas; 142 for Washington.

· Passing yards: Dallas 121; Washington 41

· Rushing yards: Dallas 59 yards; Washington 101 yards

· Sacks: one for each team

· Third down efficiency: Dallas 5-9; Washington 3-6

· Penalties: Dallas 1-5 yards; Washington 4-32

· The only turnover – an INT for Wentz with 10 seconds left in the half was inconsequential.

Washington controlled field position for most of the first half. Washington’s starting position on 5 drives: 25, 39, 25, 35, 25.

Dallas starting position on 6 drives: 25, 10, 13, 16, 25, 17. Tress Way was probably the MVP of the first half for Washington.

The 2nd half started with more of the same; Washington started at the 25 on their first drive after halftime, and after Tress Way punted, Dallas started at their own 15 yard line. After a 3 & out, Dallas had to punt from their own 10 yard line. After the punt, the commanders took over at their own 39 yard line. Way’s next punt, however, wasn’t up to his usual standard, and the ‘Boys started Drive #8 at their 38 yard line

Washington’s defense saw 2 interceptions negated by penalties, though the 2nd INT likely wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the penalty. William Jackson also gave up 38 yards on a PI call near the end of the 3rd quarter, and another 27-yard PI penalty with just over 7 minutes left in the game. Jackson did save a TD with a very good pass breakup on the very next play, forcing Dallas to punt late in the 4th quarter.

Penalties overall hurt the team on Sunday. They had only 12 penalties in the first three games combined, but ended up with 11 penalties for 136 yards in the Week 4 game in Dallas, and it wasn’t because the refs were doing a bit of home cooking. The team was sloppy too many times, on both sides of the ball. In many ways, it was the penalties that doomed the Commanders effort on Sunday.

When Dallas drove into the red zone with about 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Commanders defense stiffened again, holding the Cowboys to a field goal for the third time in the game, helping keep the game competitive despite Washington’s sputtering offense.

Washington’s offense responded with a couple of explosive plays – on 3rd & 9 Wentz eluded rush and found Dotson for 31 yards. On the next play Jonathan Williams ran for 23 yards. But successive penalties killed the drive, which ended up with 3 points on Joey Slye’s first field goal attempt of the 2022 season.

As the fourth quarter began, the score was 15-10, and Dallas had the ball 1st & 10 at the Washington 30 yard line following a bad pass interference penalty on William Jackson. Cee Dee Lamb opened the 4th quarter with a touchdown reception of 30 yards that opened up the largest lead of the day for Dallas at 22-10.

On Washington’s answering drive, facing a 3rd & 3, Washington lined up against 8 men lined up on the line of scrimmage and, in a puzzling decision, handed the ball to Gibson, who was stuffed, bringing Tress Way out for his 7th punt of the day. It was another good effort by Tress that was fair caught at the 9 yard line.

The Commanders defense made a huge play here, with Jon Allen knocking down a pass on 3rd down in the end zone. The resulting punt was shanked, and Washington’s offense took over on the Dallas 30 yard line. The Commanders drove down to the 10 yard line, but couldn’t push the ball any closer, and following a sack of Carson Wentz, faced 4th & 15 and couldn’t find Terry McLaurin near the back corner of the end zone, and Dallas took over on downs

When the Cowboys punted, Washington took over with its worst field position of the day at their own 11 yard line. On the 3rd play of the drive, Wentz tried to find Curtis Samuel in the middle of the field and was picked off by a rookie DB at the 20 yard line with about 5:30 remaining, effectively ending Washington’s hope of rallying for a win. Even so, the defense held yet again, forcing Dallas to settle for its 4th field goal of the game despite the field position. At this point, it was a 2-score game at 25-10.

The clock, however, was running. Washington had just 3:51 to score at least 15 points, yet the offense had struggled all day to move the ball. When Wentz was again unable to beat Diggs to hit Terry McLaurin on 4th & 2 with 2:39 remaining, the final nail was driven into the coffin. There was a final drive for Washington, but it was just some garbage time yardage, and Washington fell to 1-3 overall (0-2 in the division).

With the Giants and Eagles both winning their games, the division looks ugly if you are a Commanders fan.

  • Eagles 4-0 (1-0)
  • Cowboys 3-1 (1-0)
  • Giants 3-1 (0-1)
  • Commanders 1-3 (0-2)

Here are a few of the end-of-game stats:

· Washington ran 71 plays; Dallas ran 57

· Washington had 297 total yards; Dallas had 279.

· Carson Wentz was 25-42 for 170 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs

· Rush threw for 223 yards and 2 TDs.

· Wentz finished with a 56.7 rating while Rush finished with 107.5.

· Washington averaged 5.3 yards per carry; Dallas averaged 2.1

· Washington’s leading receiver was Jahan Dotson, who had 43 yards and a TD; Cee Dee Lamb had 97 yards and a TD for Dallas.

The Commanders next game is at home against the Tennessee Titans, who beat the Colts on Sunday to move to 2-2 on the season, despite having been outscored 101-75 in 4 games.