Also, this is only the first quarter but if you wondering what I thought of Jim Haslett's double safety blitz there will of course be more on it when I break down the fourth quarter. Until then, I wrote about it last night in case you haven't seen it yet (hint: I consider it so indefensibly irresponsible that it should put Haslett's job security at risk).
Anyway, let's dive into the first quarter. As always, the raw play by play info is taken from the NFL Game Book. You may notice that this play by play contains more detail than most, that is because Dallas seems to have an overly enthusiastic scorer - the unique game books jump out at me every year with the Dallas game.
Have at it:
D.Bailey kicks 58 yards from DAL 35 to WAS 7. B.Banks to WAS 30 for 23 yards (D.Bailey). Return left side of the field.
Washington Redskins at 15:00, (1st play from scrimmage 14:55)
1-10-WAS 30 (14:55) T.Hightower up the middle to WAS 30 for no gain (J.Hatcher).
If Hightower hadn’t slipped here (first of many) there could have been a good gain. He had a wide cut back lane to the left as a result of strong blocks by Trent Williams and Kory Lichtensteiger, and Santana was positioned to seal out the playside CB.
2-10-WAS 30 (14:19) R.Grossman pass deep middle to S.Moss to WAS 46 for 16 yards (M.Jenkins). Pass complete on crossing pattern.
Trent would go on to have a very good day against DeMarcus Ware, but he got embarrassed here. Ware gave an initial outside move before cutting in, and Trent lost his balance while trying to react and basically spun in a rather ridiculous looking circle. He was bailed out by Cooley who gave a very solid block from the fullback position before leaking into the flat. This was an inaccurate throw from Rex and outstanding leaping catch by Santana.
1-10-WAS 46 (13:44) T.Hightower left end to DAL 49 for 5 yards (M.Jenkins).
Lichtensteiger gets overpowered by the RDE and Chester is unable to get outside the NT to slow his pursuit, causing the cutback lane inside Trent’s block to close off. Hightower manages to bounce outside and would have had good yards, but Santana wasn’t expecting to be needed on the play and slacked on his block on the CB.
2-5-DAL 49 (13:04) T.Hightower right end to DAL 45 for 4 yards (A.Ball).
The LOLB puts a spin move on Cooley in the backfield, which is great because it lets Cooley trap him inside as Hightower heads for the corner. Jammal Brown gets to the playside ILB and doesn’t seal him in but slows him down enough for Hightower to beat him outside. He has an angle for the first down, but Davis loses control of his block on a corner.
3-1-DAL 45 (12:22) C.Cooley up the middle to DAL 42 for 3 yards (B.James).
Montgomery and Chester do a great job of getting inside the NT and LDE and prying open a gap, and Cooley shoots through it and wins a collision with the ILB.
1-10-DAL 42 (11:44) R.Grossman pass short middle to C.Cooley to DAL 25 for 17 yards (A.Elam). Pass complete off play action.
Ware puts on a stutter step, again baits Trent to the outside, and he is again unable to adjust as Ware drives through his inside shoulder. Hightower comes off the play fake just in time to deliver a hit on the off-balance Ware and take him to the ground, and Grossman does a nice job of keeping his eyes downfield despite the danger coming at him.
1-10-DAL 25 (11:02) R.Grossman pass incomplete short right. Pass incomplete sideline off play action.
2-10-DAL 25 (10:56) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass short middle to S.Moss to DAL 28 for -3 yards (K.Coleman).
I suppose the idea behind this shovel pass was to take advantage of a quick, aggressive defensive line. However, Dallas’ athleticism means they can easily adjust on the fly and chase down this play in the backfield, especially when Lichtensteiger, pulling to the left, loses his block against the LDE.
3-13-DAL 28 (10:17) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass incomplete short right to F.Davis. Pass incomplete sideline; Walker closest defender.
Dallas aligns in a four man front and Jay Ratliff, at LDT, takes a hard drive step to get Chester backpedaling and then works outside of him with ease. Rex does a great job of keeping his eyes downfield and evading the pressure with minimum movement. But, despite having bought himself time he doesn’t bother to properly reset and sails his throw high.
4-13-DAL 28 (10:17) (Field Goal formation) G.Gano 46 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-S.Rocca.
WAS 3 DAL 0, 10 plays, 42 yards, 4:54 drive, 4:54 elapsed
G.Gano kicks 70 yards from WAS 35 to DAL -5. D.Harris, Touchback.
Dallas Cowboys at 10:06
1-10-DAL 20 (10:06) F.Jones up the middle to DAL 24 for 4 yards (J.Wilson).
Josh Wilson is at the corner but doesn’t take the RB head on and instead tries to wrap him up from the side, so the RB able to power through for four yards.
2-6-DAL 24 (9:24) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to D.Bryant to DAL 34 for 10 yards (D.Hall).
Flawed blitz design here. Fletcher and Rocky blitz through the A gaps. But Bowen rushes to the inside to draw the LT away from Orakpo’s outside rush, so Rocky’s gap is pinched shut and the entire interior just turns into a scrum with no penetration. And by the way, the RB picks up Orakpo. Romo quickly gets it to Bryant at the line of scrimmage. DeAngelo Hall, despite being beat by Bryant’s move and not making real contact, gets his hands on him and just refuses to release his grip until he finally goes down even though its 10 yards downfield.
1-10-DAL 34 (8:45) F.Jones right end to DAL 35 for 1 yard (L.Fletcher, B.Cofield).
This is Adam Carricker’s signature play – playing well off the line but then lacking the speed necessary to get real results from it. He slips right through the TE’s seal block, which is critical since both the RG and RT pull to the outside so he has instant penetration. But he’s just not quick enough to chase down the RB before he turns upfield. Rocky is pursuing the play and bounces off the RT’s lead block, but right into the RG’s block, who is further outside and knocks him out of the play.
2-9-DAL 35 (7:59) (Shotgun) F.Jones up the middle to DAL 35 for no gain (L.Landry).
Kerrigan puts an inside rip move on the RT and gets penetration, meaning the RB has no chance to escape Landry’s pursuit from the edge.
3-9-DAL 35 (7:17) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short middle to J.Witten.
PENALTY on WAS-K.Barnes, Defensive Pass Interference, 13 yards, enforced at DAL 35 - No Play.
Out of the four man nickel front, Rocky and Fletcher again crowd the A gaps in the hopes of confusing Dallas’ inexperienced interior line. Fletcher drops into coverage. Rocky and Bowen both rush to their right to draw and Landry comes from the right edge, drawing the C, LG, and LT to that side. Orakpo then loops all the way to the opposite A gap, but the RG who was left unoccupied by Fletcher knows what’s going on and is there waiting for him.
1-10-DAL 48 (7:11) T.Romo pass short right to F.Jones to WAS 25 for 27 yards (D.Hall). Pass complete on check off right flat.
Something goes very wrong in coverage here. Fletcher blitzes around the offensive right corner. The RB chips him and then rolls into the flat, and there is absolutely no other defender in sight.
1-10-WAS 25 (6:33) T.Choice left guard to WAS 23 for 2 yards (K.Golston).
Golston, in at RDE, is initially overwhelmed by a LT-TE double team and turned inside. But he somehow recovers his footing and impressively sheds the block and gets back into his gap to make the stop.
2-8-WAS 23 (5:49) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short left to J.Witten. Pass incomplete on "crossing" pattern; Fletcher closest defender.
3-8-WAS 23 (5:44) (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short right to J.Witten. Pass incomplete on an "out" pattern; Wilson was the closest defender.
Barnes has inside position on the Witten’s out pattern (or as our friendly Dallas scorer would say an “out” pattern), so this would probably be a completion but Wilson is reading Romo, drops his man, and jumps the route to knock it down.
4-8-WAS 23 (5:37) (Field Goal formation) D.Bailey 41 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-L.Ladouceur, Holder-M.McBriar.
WAS 3 DAL 3, 9 plays, 57 yards, 1 penalty, 4:32 drive, 9:26 elapsed
D.Bailey kicks 64 yards from DAL 35 to WAS 1. B.Banks to WAS 16 for 15 yards (A.Elam). Return right side of the field.
Washington Redskins at 5:34, (1st play from scrimmage 5:27)
1-10-WAS 16 (5:27) T.Hightower right end to WAS 16 for no gain (K.Coleman).
This is my biggest pet peeve about zone blocking. Chester and Brown both start out on the LDT, but both shed him to get to the second level and he comes free to stuff the play. Guys – only one of you needs to get to that ILB.
2-10-WAS 16 (4:47) T.Hightower left end to WAS 25 for 9 yards (B.James).
The RDE pushes Paulsen off the line but Hightower barely makes it around the corner – whether that was because of holding, as the RDE wanted everyone in the stadium to believe, is not clear from the broadcast. Trent Williams and Chris Cooley (from twins TE) both lock on at the second level and drive their men way, way out of the play to open up the good gain. There’s also a strong downfield block from Anthony Armstrong.
3-1-WAS 25 (4:07) C.Cooley up the middle to WAS 25 for no gain (A.Elam; K.Coleman).
Dallas anticipates the fullback handoff and sends everyone at the gaps; a safety is unaccounted for and comes untouched through the right A gap to trip up Cooley.
4-1-WAS 25 (3:36) (Punt formation) S.Rocca punts 58 yards to DAL 17, Center-N.Sundberg. D.Harris to DAL 26 for 9 yards (L.Alexander).
Five second hang time. Dallas stopped us at our own 25. Last year they would have started their possession near midfield after a low line drive punt. Thanks to Sav, their back at their 25. Do not underestimate the importance of such differences in field position.
Dallas Cowboys at 3:28
1-10-DAL 26 (3:28) T.Romo pass short middle to K.Ogletree to DAL 26 for no gain (L.Fletcher).
PENALTY on DAL-D.Free, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DAL 26 - No Play.
If the LT did hold I think it was rather minor. He got called because Orakpo went to the ground, but I think that happened because he slipped while turning the corner.
1-20-DAL 16 (2:56) T.Romo pass short left to M.Bennett to DAL 22 for 6 yards (C.Neild). Screen pass.
Orakpo drops into coverage on the playside which should put him in good position to counter this screen, but he veers outside in the face of a closing lineman and leaves the TE’s path open.
2-14-DAL 22 (2:07) (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Romo pass short right to K.Ogletree to DAL 23 for 1 yard (L.Landry). FUMBLES (L.Landry), ball out of bounds at DAL 16. Washington challenged the loose ball recovery ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Romo pass short right to K.Ogletree to DAL 23 for 1 yard (L.Landry). FUMBLES (L.Landry), RECOVERED by WAS-J.Wilson at DAL 14. J.Wilson to DAL 10 for 4 yards (J.Witten).
The Redskins corners are playing very soft, so the Cowboys try to get it to their slot receiver in space. Barnes reads it and closes immediately; attempting a tackle two yards behind the line of scrimmage but simply missing. Kerrigan misses him as well and loses his footing when he tries to pursue. Landry had blitzes past the RT’s right shoulder, and since Wilson and Kerrigan slowed the WR up he is able to chase him down from behind and knock the ball out.
Washington Redskins at 1:57
1-10-DAL 10 (1:57) T.Hightower left tackle to DAL 7 for 3 yards (J.Ratliff). Timeout #1 by WAS at 01:12.
Brown cuts the RDE (it’s ugly but he gets the guy on the ground) which opens up a decent cutback lane, but Hightower slips again.
2-7-DAL 7 (1:12) T.Hightower right tackle to DAL 9 for -2 yards (S.Lee).
A counter play again but to the opposite side, and again Hightower has a big cutback area to the backside. But Lichtensteiger runs past a ILB at the second level, and the guy does a good job of shooting through the Redskins line and taking Hightower down.
3-9-DAL 9 (:32) (Shotgun) R.Grossman pass incomplete short right to T.Hightower (S.Lee). Pass knocked away in the right flat.
4-9-DAL 9 (:25) (Field Goal formation) G.Gano 27 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-N.Sundberg, Holder-S.Rocca.
WAS 6 DAL 3, 4 plays, 1 yards, 1:36 drive, 14:39 elapsed
G.Gano kicks 65 yards from WAS 35 to end zone, Touchback. Ball was kicked out of the end zone.
Dallas Cowboys at 0:21
1-10-DAL 20 (:21) F.Jones right guard to DAL 22 for 2 yards (R.McIntosh).
Well, at least this time it was their guy who slipped and fell without contact.