Best and worst moments from Washington’s 18-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Texas.
Worst Disaster: Third-and-21, with 53 men blitzing and the clock running down, Tony Romo found Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain, which became 45 yards when DeAngelo Hall was called for a facemask, allowing Dallas to run three plays and kick a game-winning field goal, negating a fairly solid road performance by the Redskins, turning the top of the NFC East into a three-way mess at 2-1 and allowing the ESPN announcers to spend the remainder of the game spouting free verse love poetry about Romo’s bountiful and world-changing merits. There really wasn’t anything good about that play.
Best Pre-Game Gesture of Confidence: The Redskins gathered for a pre-game London Fletcher speech, which just coincidentally took place on the Dallas star. Brandon Banks hopped on that star. “Why are we standing on this star? Cuz this is our house,” Fletcher said, according to one transcription. Would have been a much better display had Washington won. Image via @xmasape.
Worst Time-Killing Series: When Dallas decided to punt instead of going for a fourth down early in the fourth quarter, Jon Gruden assured us that Washington would run the ball and take time off the clock. Instead, they ran once, passed three times, and punted after less than two minutes. On the Redskins’ next drive, they called five passing plays and one run, although they managed to burn about three minutes.
Best Punter: Sav Rocca is the best Washington punter I can remember in my Washington Post tenure. As Mike Jones pointed out, before the first half was over, Rocca already led the NFL with seven punts inside the 20. He added an eighth in the fourth quarter. Except....
Worst Hold: Third straight game with a miscue on a field goal, from the miss in week one to the block in week two to the dropped hold in week three. Rocca was the culprit this time, and yeah, those three points might have come in handy.
Best Bounceback Performances: Graham Gano and Trent Williams had both been targets of fan criticism through two weeks. Gano made three field goals on Monday, including one from 50 yards. Williams mostly held his own against DeMarcus Ware, no small feat, although he did attempt to tackle him late in the fourth quarter.
Worst Touchdown Scoring Efficiency: Washington’s first three trips into Dallas territory all led to field-goal attempts, and a combined six points.
Best Replay Challenge: In full speed, Kevin Barnes indeed appeared to be out-of-bounds while recovering a first half fumble. But the replay showed that Barnes was in the air while touching the ball, and Mike Shanahan correctly challenged it, and officials correctly awarded the ball to the Redskins.
Worst Nickname Suggestion: Jon Gruden wants the Redskins offensive line to be called “The Huntin’ Dogs.” That is a horrible, horrible idea.
Worst Two-Minute Drill: On the one hand, the Redskins got the ball at their own 20 with a bit more than two minutes left in the second quarter and wound up with a field goal, which is good. On the other hand, that two-minute offense seemed to display all the urgency of a sleeping security guard. No, actually, make that a dead security guard. Decomposed security guard. The ashes of a sleeping dead decomposed security guard. Still, they got the three points, so this probably shouldn’t be a worst. And the two-minute drive at the end of the game, which included Jabar Gaffney failing to get out-of-bounds and Rex Grossman getting sacked and fumbling, wasn’t so great, either.
Best weekly male sports personality drooling over LaRon Landry’s body: “You see this guy with his shirt off, this guy is really put together,” Jon Gruden said. “Makes you want to go do some sit-ups.”
Worst Turf: The world’s greatest emporium of food and entertainment and dancing and festivities and football could probably use some sort of grippier football-playing surface. Dudes were slipping like their feet were covered with buttered banana-peel stockings.
Best Back-to-Back Statement of Being Alive Still, Offensive Edition: Chris Cooley, with a run for a first down (!) as a fullback — on the first carry of his career — followed by a 17-yard catch, demonstrating that yes, he remains part of the Washington offense. The catch, appropriately, allowed Cooley to pass Jay Novacek for sole possession of 19th in career tight end receptions. Also, as always, the “Cooooley” chant was clearly audible on the ESPN broadcast. He looked kind of odd carrying the ball, though, and when he later got the ball on a 3rd-and-short, it didn’t quite work.
Worst Speed: Monday Night Football. At 9:30 p.m., exactly 38 seconds had been played in the second quarter. Think of the children. Won’t anybody think of the children?
Best Statement of Being Alive Still, Defensive Edition: LaRon Landry made a tackle on his first possession, forced a fumble before the end of the first quarter, destroyed a Dallas receiver to cause an incompletion in the second quarter, and made Jon Gruden go weak-kneed repeatedly.
Worst Tweet: John Wall.
C’mon, man. Really. The Wizards star attempted to make up for it later, writing “I cheer for the skins whenever there not playin the cowboys...” and declaring his loyalty to Raleigh pal Brandon Banks, but it was too late.
Best In-Game Bet: Kevin Durant, representing the Redskins and his actual birth-place and loyalty and decency, bet on Washington. LeBron James, representing LeBron James, bet on the Cowboys.
Worst Throw Into Double Coverage at a Time When Interceptions Really Weren’t Needed: Rex Grossman.
Worst Interception Disguised as a Dying Seagull: Tony Romo.
Best Pre-Game Boldness: Steve Young, on the ESPN set, predicted that by the end of the 2011 season, “we’ll be viewing Rex Grossman as a top 10 quarterback.” I’m not sure I quite agree with him, but it’s a stand.
Best Running Back Block: Tim Hightower earned deserved plaudits and slow-mo replays for wrecking Gerald Sensabaugh. Hightower ended that drive with touches on six straight plays for 26 yards and a touchdown, but the block was his most impressive contribution.
Worst Chemistry Between a QB and his Center: Phil Costa and Tony Romo. Actually, perhaps this should have been titled “Best use of a double agent from Maryland to sabotage the Dallas offense and cause Tony Romo to make mad pouty faces.”
Best Pass Defense: Tie, Oshiomogho Atogwe, for breaking up a potential touchdown pass in the end zone, and Santana Moss, for breaking up a potential Rex Grossman interception.
Worst Timeout: I’m not sure exactly what happened when the Redskins burned a timeout inside the Dallas 10 near the end of the first quarter, but it sure seemed like Fred Davis’s excessive jawing with the Cowboys slowed the play-calling process down. That’s not a great reason to use a timeout, really.
Best Pastime: Listening to the ESPN broadcast crew blame the Dallas center, backup tight end, wide receivers, masseuse, hair stylist, caterer and third-string air-conditioner repairman for everything bad that happened to Tony Romo.
Worst Slurping of a Dallas Quarterback: Everyone. Good night.