Report Card: Redskins run over Cowboys
The Cowboys had arguably the worst rushing attack in franchise history, but the ground game was adequate in the season finale. Dallas ran the ball 22 times for 100 yards, which was much more effective than the norm this season. DeMarco Murray carried 17 times for 76 yards, highlighted by a 21-yard run that featured a fantastic cutback. Felix Jones, the former first-round pick who probably played his last game in a Cowboys uniform, showed surprising quickness while gaining 24 yards on five carries.
This looked like the Tony Romo from the first half of the season. It's hard to beat a quality opponent when you throw three interceptions. Romo didn't make nearly enough plays to overcome his critical mistakes, finishing with 218 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-37 passing. It didn't help that Miles Austin (no catches) missed most of the game due to a high ankle sprain or that Dez Bryant (four catches, 71 yards) was sidelined in the fourth quarter by back spasms. The Redskins only sacked Romo twice, but they blitzed him effectively throughout the game.
This was a disaster. The Cowboys simply couldn't stop rookie running back Alfred Morris, who broke Clinton Portis' franchise record for rushing yards in a season. Morris gashed the Cowboys for 200 yards and three touchdowns on 33 carries. His dominance allowed a gimpy Griffin to gain 63 yards and score once on six carries when the defense got sucked in by the zone-read fake. A healthy Griffin would have probably run for well over 100 yards.
After the Thanksgiving Day debacle, the Cowboys were determined not to let Robert Griffin III beat them with his arm again. He didn't, completing only 9-of-18 passes for 100 yards. However, the Cowboys' pass defense didn't make any game-changing plays. Dallas didn't create any turnovers. They didn't have any real pass rush with DeMarcus Ware a one-armed shell of himself. Anthony Spencer had the Cowboys' lone sack.
Dwayne Harris was a difference-maker again on punt returns. He averaged 26.0 yards on three returns, including a 39-yarder that set up the Cowboys' last touchdown. Dan Bailey drilled a 48-yard field goal on his lone attempt. But punter Brian Moorman had a net average of only 32.0 yards on four punts. The Cowboys allowed Niles Paul to average 30.7 yards on three kickoff returns, including a 48-yarder that featured a few missed tackles.
Jason Garrett's staff got outcoached by Mike Shanahan's staff. That's not a surprise, considering Shanahan has won two Super Bowls as a head coach and Garrett has never been to the playoffs. Garrett's inability to counter the Redskins' blitz packages was particularly problematic. His decision to punt instead of attempting a 52-yard field goal in the final minute of the first half was also questionable.