The Washington Football returned to FedExField for Week 14 and fell to the Dallas Cowboys, despite a late comeback, 27-20. Here are five takeaways from the loss.
1. Washington could not stay on the field.
Coming into Sunday, Washington was completing 50% of its third downs during its four-game win streak. Against the Cowboys, the Burgundy & Gold's offense looked more like it did in the first eight weeks than it did in the last month, completing 3-of-14 conversions.
Washington had to wait until the start of the third quarter to pick up a third down. Up until that point, it came up empty on its previous six attempts. It was the byproduct of a fledgling offense performance, as two of the team's first three drives ended in turnovers. One of those was a Taylor Heinicke fumble that was picked up and ran back 41 yards for the score.
Washington seemed to have found its rhythm on offense, but it was definitely out of tune on Sunday. Aside from Washington's three touchdowns, the longest drive for Washington all afternoon: 17 yards
The Washington Football Team hosted the Dallas Cowboys for Week 14 and suffered a 27-20 loss despite a late comeback. Check out the top shots from the action. (Photos by Emilee Fails, Karlee Sell, and Joseph Noyes/Washington Football Team)
2. There was little success on the ground.
On the same theme as Washington's offensive struggles, the ground game that had provided the spark for the win streak was held to a mere flicker for the entire day.
Washington finished with 100 yards on 23 carries, but it was a definitive downer after having so much success in the previous four games. Granted, some of that had to do with the fact that Washington faced a double-digit deficit for much of the game. That didn't change the fact that the Dallas front was controlling the pace at the line of scrimmage. Antonio Gibson’s longest run was 13 yards, and much of Washington's production came late in the game.
The number is even more disappointing considering that Dallas came into the matchup giving up 111 yards per contest. With four division games left, Washington still has a long list of questions left to be answered.
3. Dallas had its way in the passing game.
The Cowboys didn't necessarily hang a ton of yards on Washington -- it finished the day with 323 -- but with the success it was having in the passing game, each gain felt like it was a gash to the defense.
Time after time, Dallas' receivers were left open in particularly inopportune moments. The Cowboys' final drive before halftime, which encompassed 12 plays and 58 yards, was one of the most glaring examples. Dak Prescott had four passes go for at least 10 yards, including a 20-yarder to Amari Cooper, who made a seven-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter.
Dallas' receiver trio of Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb each had a standout day, as they combined for 17 catches and 171 yards. That accounted for much of the success from Prescott, who finished completing 56% of his passes for 211 yards.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Washington's next opponent, doesn't have receivers with quite as extensive of resumes as those of Dallas. Still, Washington will need to shore up the secondary moving forward.
4. Late heroics weren't enough to pull out a comeback.
For most of the afternoon, Washington couldn't get a break to go its way. But for about two minutes, it looked like Washington was finally gaining some momentum.
With Washington set up at Dallas' 43-yard line, Heinicke lobbed up a bomb to Cam Sims in the end zone. The play was initially ruled as an incompletion, but a challenge by head coach Ron Rivera revealed that Sims' knee hit the turf just before rolling out of bounds. On the ensuing two-point conversion, Heinicke dived for the pylon to make the score 24-8 with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Then, on the Cowboys next drive, Daron Payne slung Prescott to the ground to force a punt.
It looked like Dallas was about to run the clock out in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, but then Washington, with Kyle Allen in as the starter, put together a 73-yard scoring drive. That was followed by a pick six from Cole Holcomb that made the score 27-20. But after three-and-out from Dallas, Allen fumbled the ball on Washington's next drive, which all but extinguished any comeback hopes.
5. Washington must have a short memory.
There's no way to cover things up. Washington suffered an ugly loss at home with everything on the line. It wasn't an ideal way to start a five-game division stretch.
But there is still plenty left to play for, Washington can't dwell on things for long.
Washington will be back on the road next Sunday to take on the Eagles. After that, it will play Dallas on the road for Sunday night football before playing the Eagles again at home. It closes the regular season with a road matchup against the New York Giants.
So, Washington must flush the game from its memories and move on. It's the only thing to do after losses like this.
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