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3-and-out: Redskins-Cowboys post game quick hits

October 21, 2018 - 11:06 pm

106.7 The Fan Redskins beat reporter Craig Hoffman was in the press box at FedEx Field as the Washington Redskins took on the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 of the NFL season. He combined his observations with post-game interviews to write his top-three takeaways from this week in football:

DOINK! The Redskins won. Barely. Immediate thoughts from FedEx Field and one hell of a close thanks to Trent Williams.

1. Daron Payne announced his presence on the defense's first play of the game, tackling Ezekiel Elliott for a measly gain of three yards. Elliott would only gain 28 more yards in the entire game. Payne and Jon Allen were drafted for games like this. They were drafted to eat blocks and ball carriers. They did more of the former than the latter, but it freed Zach Brown and Mason Foster each to nine-tackle games.

The Redskins scored early, even if they didn't score often, and got to play from ahead. Good execution of their ideal game plan was exactly what the doctor ordered. The Cowboys weren't explosive enough to overcome it. The stellar play against the run finally let the pass-rushers eat, and they feasted like kings. Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks, including one in the end zone where Dak Prescott fumbled. Preston Smith, who also had a sack, scooped and scored. Ryan Anderson also made an impact with a sack and some solid rushes. Pernell McPhee drew a key holding penalty in the fourth quarter.

Why were the Redskins so successful? It starts with opportunity. The defense kept the Cowboys in third-and-long, which let their pass rushers pin their ears back and go. The result? The difference in the game.

2. Adrian Peterson carried the offense again with two of Alex Smith's top-three wide receivers out, not to mention Chris Thompson. It's so plainly obvious watching Peterson that he's special. He's violent. He's persistent. He's patient. Oh, and he's one of the most unique physical specimen's the sport has ever seen.

Peterson rushed for 99 and helped the Redskins hold on for dear life as Smith passed for under 200 yards. Smith's struggles continued. The surprising thing is his accuracy. Smith missed a number of wide open receivers. Some were with pressure. Some were not. Some were trying to get too precise with throws, such as the end zone miss to Jeremy Sprinkle, and the seam ball miss to Josh Doctson, and others were just flat misses, like the sideline throw to Michael Floyd.

No matter the reason, his struggles can be viewed one of two ways. One, it would seem he is going to have to play better to win football games. Of course, you could just as easily say that Smith's lack of turnovers and conservative style have helped the Redskins get to 4-2, in spite of a prolific passing game, and if it clicks, they have endless upward potential. Time will tell.

3. Part of the Redskins' success this year has been situational success. There were some major misses in that area today. Most notably was Smith on the offense's final play. The veteran chose to run out of bounds, instead of diving or sliding to keep the clock moving and cost Dallas their final timeout. Smith said he thought he could get the first down before realizing he couldn't, and by that point it was too late. Certainly the hope would be a veteran could make that decision faster in that critically important moment.

Gruden's decision at the end of the first half to try for a Hail Mary was questioned at the time, but there's no questioning in hindsight. Dustin Hopkins needed about 10 more yards because of the wind, so a would-be 56-yarder was way out of his range. Gruden's decision to call an option play on third-and-2 in the fourth quarter when a first down would've gone a long way towards winning? That one is up for debate. All in all, the Redskins won a game that took just over three hours to play. The game plan with this group is shorten the game and win ugly. Mission accomplished.

Stat of the day: Courtesy of long-time Dallas scribe Jean-Jacques Taylor – Cowboys long-snapper L.P. Ladouceur has played in 212 games for the Cowboys. He's been penalized five times - none since the playoff loss to Green Bay at the end of the 2014 season. He was penalized twice on Sunday.

A note on the illegal snap – Nick Sundberg had been yelling about it all game. Apparently Ladouceur cocks the ball on every snap, which is illegal. It wasn't until the last snap where someone actually jumped on it. Daron Payne said he was just reacting to the ball. Whether it was the five extra yards or the extra time to think, Dallas's game-tying kick found upright.

Quote of the day: "You really want to know what I was thinking?" Trent Williams asked when queried about what was going through his mind when Brett Maher kicked the game-tying attempt. "To be honest man, when the ball hit the goal post…I just thought about Rich (Tandler)."

Williams went on to say that the last time they spoke was a week ago, after the Redskins' win over Carolina. "I know he enjoyed the seat he had today, not having to work and enjoying a good night of football."

While clearly good natured, I'll disagree with Trent. Rick Snider told us earlier in the week how Rich used to stand in the back of the press box when he started writing because he didn't have a seat. He was already in his 50s when that happened. In the decade that ensued, he earned a seat on the front row of the press box and there's just no way anyone appreciated that seat more than Tandler.

We were blessed with Rich's family visiting the press box before the game. I had a lovely conversation with his sister, Tad. She told me how they had been Redskins fans since the 60s and how Rich's relationship with their father centered around their love of the Redskins. That's a lot of Redskins-Cowboys games. I'd love to ask him where this one ranked.

"He was with us today," Williams said. "We're so blessed to even have a guy like that around and be able to get to know him. So, that's really what I was thinking."

On that, Trent and I agree.

Follow Redskins reporter Craig Hoffman and 106.7 The Fan