Best and worst moments from Washington’s 31-16 loss to the Cowboys in Dallas.
Worst special teams: Five penalties, two long returns that resulted in touchdowns, and a missed field goal. Not great. I don’t really feel like talking about former special teams coach Danny Smith, but his departure has not seemed to help.
Worst special teams penalty: Sure, some penalties were more costly. But nothing displayed the ineptitude better than the false start on an extra point attempt. Guess it would have been worse had the subsequent attempt been blocked.
(Second) Worst special teams penalty: An illegal motion call against Jerome Murphy meant Dallas got another crack at a punt return late in the second quarter. The second crack led to an 86-yard return for a touchdown. Ok, actually, that one was probably a worse penalty.
Worst carnage: Not only were the special teams miserable in virtually every way, but seemingly half the special teamers got injured. Bryan Kehl, one of the unit’s best players, got hurt. So did long snapper Nick Sundberg, who missed much of the game with a knee injury. And rookie cornerback David Amerson suffered a a concussion during special teams coverage. If you had erased special teams entirely from the game, no one would have complained.
Worst slump: Oh yeah, after hitting his first 18,000 NFL field goal attempts, Kai Forbath now has missed attempts in three straight regular season games, dating to last season. (He missed three games this year due to injury.) The perfect Forbath was more fun.
Worst job by a special teams coach: Just don’t run into the official on a punt return that’s being returned for a touchdown. Whatever you do, don’t run into the official on a punt return that’s being returned for a touchdown. That’s in the job description. Keith Burns did not follow that rule. He’s the man in the white shirt, above, set to collide with the official. NBC’s Al Michaels said assistant coaches are not permitted to stroll on that white section of the field.
Best tip: DeAngelo Hall got a tiny piece of finger on a would-be touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. That helped force Dallas to settle for a field goal, which meant it was still a one-possession game. “A game-saving play,” NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said. On first glance, Hall was excellent all night.
Worst fumble: Despite being outplayed most of the night, the Redskins had the ball and were still within one score with 10 minutes left. Then Robert Griffin III was sacked and fumbled inside his own five-yard line. Two plays later, Joseph Randle was in the end zone, and the drama was mostly over. Fumbling was a problem for the quarterback in his rookie season; it appears to still be a problem.
Best reemergence: Whether because of bad blocking or bad playcalling or whatever else, Alfred Morris had been mediocre to bad all night. But after gaining 27 yards on his first 13 carries, he galloped for a 45-yard touchdown late in the third quarter that got Washington back within a score of the Cowboys. It was the longest touchdown run of his career.
Worst time management: Whatever Washington was attempting to do at the end of the first half, it was exquisitely bad. The Redskins ran off all sorts of time without any nod toward the clock, they kept their timeouts safely holstered until less than 45 seconds remained, and they were relentlessly criticized by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Then, near the end of the game, Washington continued to operate with great patience and forbearance. “Redskins offense plays at the speed of AARP intermural team,” my Express colleague Rick Snider wrote on Twitter.
He’s lost and I guarantee he won’t admit it tomorrow. That was high-schoolish clock mgt. Just pitiful.
— Kevin Sheehan (@kevins980) October 14, 2013
this is embarrassing. No team in the league is huddling at this point in the game with the score where it is. A joke.
— Kevin Sheehan (@kevins980) October 14, 2013
Best return: Rob Jackson — the linebacker who helped clinch Washington’s division title last December with an interception of Tony Romo — made his 2013 debut Sunday night. The highlight was a second-quarter interception of Tony Romo. Sure, the ball was tipped, and landed in Jackson’s arms with all the speed of a descending feather attached to a parachute, but still.
Worst red zone offense: Washington’s first three trips past the Dallas 20 yard line led to three field-goal attempts. All were successful, but kicking field goals inside the 20 is a good way to be a mediocre NFL team.
Best pass: Redskins fans, and most other NFL fans, love making fun of Romo, and he gives them plenty of chances. His touchdown toss to Terrance Williams in the third quarter Sunday night was not one of those chances. Romo bought himself more time, rolled out, and lofted a pass more perfect than veggie chili nachos into the corner of the end zone. You can’t do better than that.
Worst pass: This is mostly just a response to the previous item, but Robert Griffin III had more than one wobbly floater that seemed out of character. (And I’m not speaking of his interception, which was a result of Santana Moss falling down.) Yes, wobbly passes to nobody are a million times better than game-turning interceptions, but the flailing ducks seemed to be almost entirely absent from his rookie campaign.
Best player: I guess it was Dwayne Harris. The Cowboys return man took back the above-mentioned 86-yarder for a touchdown, and later returned a kickoff 90 yards, setting Dallas up for a touchdown that pushed the lead to double digits for the first time. He also had a big-time special-teams tackle in the fourth quarter.
Best debut: Joshua Morgan had never returned a punt in his NFL career before the second quarter on Sunday. His first attempt went for a very solid nine yards, and gave the impression that the return job might no longer be a question mark. It was one of the Redskins’ longest punt returns of the season.
Worst Prediction: After the Cowboys scored a million points and gained a billion yards against Denver, and after the Redskins suffered from poor defense for much of the season, everyone in the world expected Tony Romo would have a fine day. Everyone in the world — including your humble author — was wrong. Romo managed just 170 passing yards — easily his lowest total of the year — and one touchdown.
Worst start: Dallas got the ball first, which was bad. The drive led to eight first downs, and lasted more than six minutes which was bad. Jason Witten was super involved, which was bad. There was a disputed spot, and two penalties on the defense, which were all bad. The Cowboys ended the drive in the end zone, which was bad. “Perfect start for the Dallas Cowboys,” Al Michaels said at the end, which was also bad. Everything about that drive was bad.
Best response: With Redskins fans already pushing panic buttons and reaching for whiskey bottles, the Redskins took the ball and went hurry-up, in a drive that featured a nifty 15-yard RGIII run and a couple grabs by Jordan Reed. It ended shy of the end zone, but the short field goal helped ease the initial panic, if nothing else.
Worst break: A second-quarter Dallas punt was bouncing into cornerback B.W. Webb’s bottom no matter what the Redskins did. But officials ruled that Webb was blocked into the ball by Jerome Murphy — and Webb was being blocked at the time, even though his bum would have been in the path of the ball regardless. Murphy could have stopped for a Gatorade break, and that ball was still hitting Webb’s tuchas. Dallas kept the ball. Just a bad break.
Best break: In their last game, the Redskins avoided two of Oakland’s scariest players, in Darren McFadden and Terrelle Pryor. This time, DeMarcus Ware and DeMarco Murray — one of Dallas’s best defensive players, and one of Dallas’s best offensive players — both exited in the first half with injuries.
Worst drop: Griffin’s only incomplete pass on Washington’s first drive came on a short attempt to Alfred Morris that was slightly behind the running back. But Morris — who doesn’t have a reputation as a receiving threat — could have helped his team considerably by pulling in the very catchable pass.
Best omen: Robert Griffin III pulling the ball down and going with the QB draw inside the 10-yard line didn’t completely work — he was tackled at the 2 after a seven-yard gain. But the playcall was something out of 2012, where Griffin QB-drew opponents to death in the red zone. He didn’t run with a tad of hesitation, and nothing about the play felt perilous. (ESPN’s John Keim wrote on Twitter that the Redskins haven’t called that play since their ninth game last season.)
Best Run: Sure enough, later in the game, Griffin took off and went for 26 yards down the right sideline, his longest run of the game. He wasn’t a sprinter, but he was a fast NFL quarterback, which is good enough. and he earned an additional 15 yards after a late hit. He finished with 77 rushing yards, his most since last November.
Worst phone call: “Hey Dan, can you write a newspaper story about Bob Costas and Jerry Jones talking about the Redskins team name please?”
Best introduction: Josh Wilson introduced himself with a shout-out to DeMatha, which I enjoyed. Pierre Garcon went with “Pierre Garcon, Haiti,” which was also fun.
Worst jersey: This one.
Worst standings: The Eagles also won, so Washington is now a game and a half behind both Dallas and Philadelphia, with head-to-head losses against both squads.
Worst record: The Caps are 1-4. The Redskins are 1-4. Winning 20 percent of your games isn’t good.