Ten Spot Review Cowboys 14, Redskins 10 1. Will Clinton Portis play?
Very few expected him to play – including us – so it was a surprise when Portis dressed and played the entire game. He left the game after having his knee tweaked late in the game, but returned after one play. Give Portis credit for playing. And he played hard, running for 68 yards. Had they been in control, he likely would have rushed for perhaps 100 yards. He ran tough. His pass protection was merely OK, however.
2. Can Ladell Betts be effective in his place?
Guess this one is irrelevant, huh? Betts was not as much a factor as he normally is, with only one carry. He hurt his knee again, but said afterward that he should be fine for this week. He was walking fine this morning.
3. What about the other backs?
Shaun Alexander had one carry for one yard. Again, irrelevant question.
4. Who else might miss?
We wondered about Marcus Washington not being available. We also didn't think it would matter much considering we thought the Redskins would be in more nickel coverages. But the Cowboys used two-receivers often. Washington did play but left with a sprained ankle. He was limping badly this morning. Shawn Springs was expected to play but missed again with a calf injury. Don't think that goes over too well in the locker room. Some guys grumbled after he missed earlier in the season. However, it's hard to tell with different injuries when a guy should return.
5. Can Taylor help?
He did not do much. He did not start, coming off the bench behind Demetric Evans. Taylor hasn't added much of a pass rush, but the Redskins did try to get him in more favorable positions by having him stand up a couple times. He'd like to do more of that. Considering the anemic rush, why not?
6. What difference will Tony Romo make?
He made a big one, even though Dallas only scored 14 points. But what Romo did was provide confidence as well as a threat to go downfield. That alone made him a worth contributor. The Redskins could not bring up an 8th man in the box as much as they would have liked knowing he could burn them deep.
7. What's the key defensively?
We thought they had to stop Marion Barber, as they did in the first game. They failed to do so as Barber rushed for 114 yards and helped Dallas run out the final 6:40. Barber ran physical and hurt Washington on some toss sweeps. That eventually opened up runs inside. The Redskins did a good job against the wideouts. It was clear Romo was a little rusty early and missed a couple open throws. Washington's corners played physical as always.
8. How about offensively?
The Redskins had to stop DeMarcus Warse, who had a sack and two hurries. But he wasn't alone.
Dallas' front whipped Washington's line all night – and it wasn't just one guy, either. Chris Samuels is hurting more than he's saying and did not look like his old self. He got beat by more than just Ware and on different moves. Jay Ratliff ate up the interior. Every O-lineman had trouble at times.
9. What should they do on offense?
The Redskins had to change up a little from what they did in the first game. They tried a few more bootlegs, a wise move. But the Dallas ends reacted well and prevented those from being a success. Also, they could not take many shots downfield because of protection issues. The Redskins threw just two passes in the second half that traveled more than 10 yards in the air. That wasn't by design.
10. Who will win?
We didn't feel good about this pick, but we stuck with the Redskins. I liked the Redskins' line in this matchup, but that didn't work out well. I liked the Redskins' secondary and they played well. But the offense continues to really struggle and if they don't improve this week they will lose at Seattle, bad as the Seahawks are. The good thing for Washington is that its defense is playing at a high level. That could be enough to squeeze out three or four more wins. It has to be.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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Ten Spot Review: Cowboys 14, Redskins 10
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