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Week 13 Game Recap: Dallas Cowboys 19, Washington Redskins 16


What you need to know

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas remains in the playoff picture despite four fumbles and bumbling through late-game situations for the road divisional win against Washington. Matt Cassel continues to limit the offense and the line play has been a far cry from their elite level of a year ago. Terrance Williams made big plays early and Dez Bryant impacted the game late. Darren McFadden missed roughly a quarter of action with a third quarter concussion (and contributed two fumbles) as Robert Turbin replaced him. Jason Witten ran his touchdown drought to 11 straight games covering 52 receptions and counting.

Washington Redskins

As usual consistency is the key for the Washington Redskins. They haven't won 2 games in a row all year and if they want to win the NFC East they will need to put together a couple of good games to keep that hope alive. Washington has to get back to running the ball effectively if they want the offense to produce. They also have to stay on schedule within drives as they are often shooting themselves in the foot with penalties and negative plays. This has been the case much of the season so that may be asking a lot.

Dallas Cowboys

QB Matt Cassel, 56 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 29 - 222 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 2 - -3 - 0
In a game where neither team did much to overtly win the game, Matt Cassel made enough quality throws late to get the season-saving victory in Washington. Cassel avoided the turnover through air, while Dallas coughed up four fumbles, laboring to make intermediate and deep throws throughout the game. Cassel airmailed his first two substantial throws, one down the seam and another on a slant to Dez Bryant. Cassel also missed Terrance Williams down the sideline with another overthrown pass. Two significant throws were highlights of Cassel’s performance. The first showed clear chemistry between Cassel and Williams on a back shoulder completion in the third quarter for a sizeable gain. Late in the game Cassel finally connected with Dez Bryant, a rarity this week, on a deep sideline pass. While the limitations of Cassel to outright win a game on his shoulders are clear, Washington and Kirk Cousins did little to claim victory on the other side.

RB Darren McFadden, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 14 - 53 - 1, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (1 targets)
Despite the optimistic matchup against Washington, McFadden generally struggled this week. Two lost fumbles, including on the opening carry marred his performance. McFadden rarely had a defined hole to burst through in the first half. On his most productive sequence of touches, three straight carries to open the second half for 21 yards, McFadden ended the string absorbing a forceful hit and fumbling on the play. He left the field for concussion protocol. In the fourth quarter McFadden returned, promptly being stuffed on two red zone carries. Late in the game McFadden had another productive pair of carries. He got the edge for nine yards in the red zone, then followed it up by plowing in for a rare short-yardage touchdown since Matt Cassel has been the starting quarterback.

RB Robert Turbin, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 12 - 0, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (2 targets)
Turbin saw extended playing time against Washington in the second half when Darren McFadden missed close to a quarter passing the concussion protocol. It is worth noting McFadden did not see a drop in playing time despite multiple fumbles in the game. Turbin had an up-and-down performance, getting stuffed on a screen pass and third-and-one situation. Turbin also fought for yards-after-contact on multiple carries where little running room was present. Turbin is the clear primary backup to McFadden, but without a strong passing game threat with Matt Cassel, Turbin’s upside if called to the lead role is fading.

WR Dez Bryant, 47 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 62 - 0 (7 targets)
Bryant was vocal about his lack of quality targets early against Washington. Matt Cassel overthrew Bryant on a remedial slant route and later Cassel ignored Bryant completely when he was wide open for a likely slant route touchdown. Bryant barked on the sideline following the drive as Dallas’ offense sputtered for more than three full quarters. Beyond the box score, Bryant did draw two defensive pass interference penalties, both on third downs and one deep down the field. Late in the game Bryant stepped up and finally saw accurate throws from Cassel. Bryant made a double move deep down the sideline for a highlight reel diving catch inside the five-yard-line. On the game-winning drive Bryant caught slant and comeback route receptions, leading to Dallas’ long field goal. Including the pass interference penalties, Bryant’s impact was close to 100 yards for the game and with Cassel being more accurate early on would have added a touchdown and two more receptions to his tally. The late-game connection deep between Bryant and Cassel was a positive sign for the coming weeks. This week marked the second time all season Bryant eclipsed 50 yards in a game.

WR Terrance Williams, 37 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 63 - 0 (3 targets)
Williams saw only three targets from Matt Cassel against Washington, all deep shots. The pair showed good chemistry on a back shoulder connection. Williams had separation down the sideline and might have scored on a well-thrown pass; however, Cassel underthrew him, limiting the play to a long gain. Williams excels against favorable coverage, but has struggled to see consistent targets with Dallas’ tight-to-the-vest current offensive approach.

TE Jason Witten, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 45 - 0 (9 targets)
Witten saw a season-high nine targets – more than 30% of Dallas team total – and failed to sniff the end zone for the eleventh straight game. Witten’s receptions were all or none in result as he broke a tackle for a first down late in the game and found running room on another reception in the fourth quarter. However, the rest of his catches were short-range gains for little yardage. Witten was also called for offensive pass interference, pushing off on a pass route.


Washington Redskins

QB Kirk Cousins, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 31 - 219 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0
Kirk Cousins performance on Monday night sputtered with subpar play. Kirk's inability to sustain drives was the main reason the offense sputtered. The running game was highly inconsistent which led to Kirk needing to make more plays and that put him in uncomfortable situations. He normally thrives off of play action and quick passes but with the running game being unreliable Kirk struggled. The Cowboys also brought constant pressure which Kirk doesn't manage well either so that was another contributing factor to his lack of effectiveness. However, Kirk did show good poise when orchestrating a game tying drive late in the game where he made multiple accurate throws to several receivers. He capped off the drive with a 28yard pass to DeSean Jackson that laid out beautifully for him to run under for the score. Overall, the pressure of the Cowboys defense and an inconsistent rushing attack hampered Kirk's ability to flourish in this game.

RB Matt Jones, 40 offensive snaps, Rush: 18 - 49 - 0, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)
Matt Jones was the running back that got the most usage in this game. Matt had 18 carries but the production was underwhelming. He did manage to keep a few drives alive, most notably in the 2nd half when Washington was trying to establish a rhythm. If it weren't for untimely penalties that put Washington in obvious passing situations Matt could have had a much better day. He ran hard all game and avoided his usual fumbling issues.

RB Alfred Morris, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 6 - 12 - 0
Alfred Morris was seemingly benched in the 2nd quarter as he only had a total of 6 carries. He was barely on the field after a late first quarter carry. It was odd being that he was fresh off a 23 carry game prior to Monday night. This has been a reoccurring theme with the Washington backfield as you never know what will happen with each week.

RB Chris Thompson, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0, Rec: 4 - 18 - 0 (4 targets)
Chris Thompson was largely ineffective in this game as he had 5 total touches that resulted in minimal impact toward the game.

WR DeSean Jackson, 48 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 80 - 1 (7 targets)
DeSean Jackson his busiest game of the year as Washington made a better effort of getting him involved early and often. DeSean was able to get open all night due to the cushion the Cowboys were giving him. Most of his catches were on comeback routes and he even caught a slant that resulted in a big first down. DeSean could have had a bigger day receiving if it weren't for a couple of over throws and a few penalties that wiped out catches. DeSean's day came with the biggest highlight and lowlight all in a matter of minutes. Towards the end of the game he received a punt but fumbled it away to Dallas trying too hard to make a play. Then on Washington's next possession he caught the game tying touchdown late in the 4th quarter by running straight pass Morris Claiborne displaying his game breaking speed. He is the most dangerous piece in the Washington offense so hopefully they can get him even more involved moving forward.

WR Pierre Garcon, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 54 - 0 (7 targets)
Pierre Garcon had a decent game considering the low scores and nature of the game. He was 2nd on the team in catches with 5 but didn't accumulate much yardage. Garcon did haul in a huge 23 yard reception that ultimately led to a field goal as points were hard to come by in this game.

WR Jamison Crowder, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 29 - 0 (4 targets)
Jamison Crowder was fairly absent in this game as he only caught three passes. He wasn't able to put his imprint on this game as his ability to break tackles was held in check.

TE Jordan Reed, 62 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 33 - 0 (8 targets)
Jordan Reed wasn't his usual self in this game as Dallas kept his performance quiet. Reed struggled getting free as consistent as he usually does due to Dallas being able to match up with him. He only had 3 catches and Kirk misfired on a few potential catches but for the most part Dallas did a good job shutting him off as an option in the passing game. His biggest play went for 16 yards but that was nearly half his total yardage for the game.