Washington traveled to Dallas for its second straight division match up in two weeks. For the third Sunday in a row, the Commanders came up short, losing to the Cowboys, 25-10. Here are three numbers to know from the defeat:
For context, before the Commanders came into the contest at AT&T Stadium, they had given up 12 penalties total across their first three games of the season. In just today's loss, Washington gave up 11 penalties. From a sheer yardage perspective, the penalties were costly, amounting to 136 yards lost.
Perhaps more detrimental though were when the flags were thrown. Midway through the second quarter with the Commanders up by one, Benjamin St-Juste intercepted an underthrown Cooper Rush pass. The interception was negated because of illegal contact. Dallas scored five minutes later to take a lead that it would not give up for the rest of the game.
That play was the first of two interceptions that would be called back for the Commanders. In the third quarter, Kam Curl intercepted a Rush pass intended for Tony Pollard, but the play was called back and Dallas got an automatic first down after William Jackson III was called for defensive holding.
All the shorter penalties also added up for the Commanders' offense. The unit got into an unfortunate pattern of making one or two promising plays, but then a false start here for five yards or a holding call there for five yards, meant that ball was pushed back. Carson Wentz & Co. found themselves staring down the barrel of third-and-long way more than it would have liked.
Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders taking on the Dallas Cowboys in their Week 4 matchup. (Emilee Fails/Washington Commanders)
Both Dallas and Washington finished with 5-of-15 on third down, but a closer look at the numbers tell two different stories. Just as we have seen in the last few games, the Commanders' offense has struggled to make the impact many see it can make with all the weapons it possesses. Though the offense improved a weakness from its game last week by working the ground game more, it failed to remedy other key issues.
Terry McLaurin was targeted in the first half this game, but Wentz could not consistently find him. The quarterback's troubles with holding on to the ball just a bit too long continued today. As he scrambled and threw the ball to avoid Dallas' deadly pass rush, Wentz was called for intentional grounding twice.
Those third-and-long situations certainly were not all Wentz-induced. The offensive line, which has not looked a supremely sturdy force recently, had problems fully containing Micah Parson's and the rest of the Cowboys front. Other times, the offensive line drew penalties that resulted from anticipating or fighting to contain the front's attack. The combination of penalties, drawn-out decision making, misplaced passes and other factors saw Washington's offense forced off the field before it ever could really get going.
In many ways, Washington's total rushing yards number today does not come as a surprise. In talking about the offense, both coaches and players this week spoke about a desire to be more dynamic and spread the ball.
After preaching to his running back room, "don't count the reps, but make the reps count," running backs coach Randy Jordan watched the rep count for his unit increase significantly in Week 4. Antonio Gibson, who was given the ball 13 times for 49 yards, did well to dig his feet in and get yards after contact in order to move the chains. Following a 3-yard burst in the fourth quarter, Gibson broke the 2,000 career yards marker, becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to claim that milestone within his first three seasons.
Other backs also joined in on the ground attack. J.D. McKissic finished the game with eight carries for 40 yards. His 33-yard run with just under nine minutes to go in the second quarter was his longest rush as a member of the Burgundy & Gold. Jonathan Williams, who Jordan praised for his key single carry last week off the bench, got even more involved today. He finished the game with five carries for 48 yards. His 23-yard carry in the third quarter was Washington's third longest play of the game.