NFC East Roundup: Washington Resilient In Win
Let’s take a spin around the NFC East and see what’s going on with the other three teams inside the division.
We’ll begin with the Eagles’ opponent yesterday. Washington’s run game was electric, rushing for a season-high 230 yards, but after giving up touchdowns to Wendell Smallwood on a kickoff and a pick-six by Malcolm Jenkins, Mike Jones of the Washington Post writes Washington never flinched.
“Bunch of veterans in the room, so we know that things happen, but you’ve got to keep working hard,” said wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who had six catches for a season-high 77 yards and helped compensate for the absence of tight end Jordan Reed, who was out with a concussion. “Got a bunch of coaches preaching the same thing. Don’t let one bad thing destroy you. Learn from mistakes and keep moving forward.”
The Redskins did move forward, closing out the second quarter by stringing together a 13-play, 75-yard drive capped by a rushing touchdown by Matt Jones.
And once the offense put the Redskins back in front, the defense did its part, keeping its opponent out of the end zone in the second half for a fourth straight game. The Eagles moved the ball in the fourth quarter, with [Carson] Wentz passing for 125 yards, but Philadelphia scored just six points after going scoreless in the third quarter.
Injuries along the offensive line and secondary had threatened to derail the Redskins early this season. But Washington has managed to compensate. Players and coaches have displayed no signs of panic over a mounting injury count or poor performances.
CSN Mid-Atlantic’s JP Finlay says even though Washington has won their last four, former quarterback and current broadcaster Sonny Jurgensen is still mad at head coach Jay Gruden for running a fade route to the end zone.
“You didn’t let me down – you through the fade down there at the goal line,” Jurgensen said to Gruden.
The coach laughed, which was easy to do after the impressive win. Then he fired back a few good lines of his own.
“I tell you what, we’re going to catch one of those. I’m going to flip you one up there Sonny,” Gruden said. “I’m sure you threw a fade before in your career, you sorry dog.”
It’s important to note all of this conversation came with Gruden and Jurgensen laughing (watch the full video here). The fade route in question came late in the second quarter, just moments before Matt Jones would burst in from the one-yard line untouched for a TD. So the unsuccessful fade really had no impact on the game, outside of Jurgensen’s distaste for the route.
“You know [Kirk Cousins] just threw it a little soon,” Gruden explained of the play. “We’re going to keep working it, work the running game, we got a good run in there for a touchdown, a couple good passes, it was a good mix.”
Washington travels to Detroit to take on the Lions next Sunday.
Moving on to the division-leading Dallas Cowboys, who took care of the Packers in Green Bay, 30-16, and head into their bye week at 5-1. Ezekiel Elliott had another big day on the ground with his fourth straight game with at least 130 yards rushing, becoming the first rookie in NFL history to achieve that feat.
But the bigger story on offense revolves around quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Tony Romo. David Moore for the Dallas Morning News reports owner Jerry Jones is still hesitant on naming Prescott the starter in two weeks against the Eagles.
Jones and the players spoke after the game about the momentum that’s building. Can the Cowboys afford to interrupt that with a quarterback change if Prescott continues to win?
“Hey, all I know is we’re still going to be damn good,” [Dez] Bryant said. “I wish I could speak more on it, but, you know, that’s out of my pay grade.”
It’s not out of Jones’ pay grade. What will the Cowboys do?
“I think what we’re going to do is wait until the next card is played,” Jones said.
Right now, Prescott is holding all the cards.
“We’re going to have a very, very, very good situation to make decisions around,” Jones said. “There’s nothing I’d rather do than go into the last half of the season with a ready-to-go Tony Romo and a winning Dak Prescott. I dream of being able to make that decision.”
Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star Telegram doesn’t want you to forget about the team’s resurgent defense.
The strides the Cowboys have made on defense may be the most overlooked part of this surprise start. They are forcing more turnovers. They are making teams settle for field goals. And they’re playing much more physical.
All of this from a unit that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli nicknamed the “Mighty Orphans,” a play off the legendary Fort Worth high school football team known as the Masonic Home Mighty Mites in the 1930s and 1940s.
“Nobody really expected much from us. That’s why they gave us the nickname the ‘Mighty Orphans,’ ” said defensive tackle Terrell McClain, who had a tackle for loss Sunday.
“We don’t mind being underdogs because we just go out there and show up every time we’re out there. It makes us feel a lot better after the game.”
The Cowboys host the Eagles in two weeks, and should have Dez Bryant, Darren McFadden, and Morris Claiborne available, among others.
And finally to the Giants, who beat the Ravens, 27-23, at MetLife Stadium. Odell Beckham Jr. had a rough start, leaving the game in the second quarter because of a hip flexor injury, but came back in time for the 66-yard game-winning touchdown catch, his second of the day.
Outside of his antics on and off the field, Beckham and his career-high 222 receiving yards reminded the Giants why he’s worth being on the team, opines Gary Myers of the New York Daily News.
All the nonsense aside, OBJ is a great player. The Lawrence Taylor of the offense.
“The guy is just a straight baller,” Victor Cruz said. “He just wants to win and compete every single time he touches the football. That’s what you love about him.”
No player has been dissected more than Beckham the first five weeks of the season. When he’s got his mind right, he’s unstoppable.
What about the antics?
“I can’t be worried about that,” Cruz said. “I’m worried about Odell the player. That’s my teammate. That’s one of my best friends. I just want to continue to see him win. All the other stuff, the coaches, they will handle all that stuff. I’m just happy to see him on the field playing at a high level.”
The Giants almost didn’t come out with the win, after a questionable pass interference call on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie helped give the Ravens a 23-20 lead late in the game. The corner wasn’t happy and confused about the call afterwards, from Roger Rubin of the New York Post.
“Initially I wanted to take my helmet off and throw it,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “But I can’t argue a call. … Even though it was a crucial call, I’ve got to live with it because it’s a decision he made. No matter what I do he is not going to overturn it.”
“It was a horrible call. Did you watch it?” linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “I don’t think DRC could play the route better than that besides catching the ball as the DB. He had tremendous coverage on him. It’s a terrible call, but so be it.”
[Breshad] Perriman said: “I was actually trying to knock it down because of our positioning, but it could have gone either way.”
Rodgers-Cromartie said the official told him the penalty was the result of contact between the players earlier in the route — which some would argue could be a holding call — though DRC wondered aloud, “So why would it come in so late?”
The Giants travel across the pond to take on the Los Angeles Rams in London’s Twickenham Stadium on Sunday morning, local time.