NFC East Roundup: Could Tony Romo Replace Dak Prescott?
After a week where all four NFC East teams played against division opponents, let’s take a spin around the division and check in with the other three teams.
We’ll begin with the Redskins, who defeated the Eagles yesterday afternoon, 27-22. Kirk Cousins threw for only 234 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Robert Kelley ran for 63 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson returned to Philadelphia and caught three passes for 102 yards and a score, while Pierre Garçon and Chris Thompson also scored touchdowns.
Although he hasn’t done a lot this season, linebacker Ryan Kerrigan came up big for the Redskins late, as he forced a strip-sack on Carson Wentz to preserve the win, writes Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
Whatever the reason, Kerrigan has had his level of play and the magnitude of his contributions questioned this season. Former players-turned-radio-talk-show-hosts, like ESPN 980’s Chris Cooley, have wondered about Kerrigan’s health, surmising that Kerrigan has played at less than 100 percent and thus hasn’t managed to provide as many clutch plays.
But Kerrigan has denied that. And the Redskins have insisted that his impact remains, whether the untrained eye catches them consistently or not.
“A lot of his plays don’t come on the stat sheet,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “He does a great job of forcing the quarterback up and he plays the run. He’s a great run defender, and a lot of people don’t give him credit for that. But he makes an amazing impact. Any time you have 11 sacks in the National Football League and we’ve only played 13 games, it’s pretty impressive. He does change plays in our book. Maybe not the way he would like, and he doesn’t get the publicity [that] some of the other guys get. But he’s certainly an important part of our football team, that’s for sure.”
So when Kerrigan provided Sunday’s game-sealing play, it didn’t come by surprise to Gruden or his players.
With the Buccaneers defeating the Saints, Tampa Bay is still a half game in front of Washington for the final Wild Card spot. Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic says there’s no wiggle room at all for the Redskins in the playoff race.
The Redskins didn’t get any good news regarding the teams directly behind them either. The Packers thumped the Seahawks and the Vikings beat the Jaguars. Both of those teams moved to 7-6, and remained a half game being Washington.
There was some better news a little bit further down in the playoff standings. The losses by the Eagles and Saints and the Cardinals’ loss to the Dolphins combined with the wins by the Redskins and others just about knocked those teams out of realistic contention. While none of them are mathematically eliminated the all are sitting on five wins with three to play. It seems unlikely that an 8-8 (or, in the case of the Cardinals, an 8-7-1) team will make the postseason so even winning out is likely to get them to the postseason. We will stop examining those teams as potential threats to make it.
It looks like the Redskins’ path to the playoffs starts with winning their three remaining games to finish 10-5-1. After their losses to the Cowboys and Cardinals and yesterday’s results they are out of wiggle room. Mathematically they could still get in with nine wins but they would need a lot of help.
But three wins alone won’t get them in. They need to Bucs to lose at least one of their remaining three games or they would need the Giants to lose at least one of the two games before they meet the Redskins in the season finale.
The Redskins host the Carolina Panthers next Monday night.
In the other divisional matchup, the Giants handed the Cowboys their second loss of the season in the Meadowlands, 10-7. Eli Manning threw for 193 yards, along with a touchdown and an interception, while Rashad Jennings and Paul Perkins each ran for 45 yards on 15 carries. Odell Beckham Jr. caught four passes for 94 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Leon Hall and Janoris Jenkins recorded interceptions.
Jenkins had the responsibility of covering Dez Bryant for most of the game and shut the star wide receiver down, from Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.
After the Giants went three-and-out, Jenkins also defended the Cowboys’ last-gasp incomplete pass of the game to Bryant.
Nine times Bryant got the ball thrown his way by Dak Prescott with only one reception, and that reception turned into a critical fumble.
“He kind of beat me a little bit inside, but I got recovery speed and I swiped at the ball and made a physical play and it popped out and we got the turnover,” Jenkins said. “Speed is something I’ve always had. That’s why they called me Jackrabbit.’’
“I just did my job,’’ Jenkins said. “This was a great job by our defense. Everybody came out and made plays. This is just playing football. No slap-talking. I always enjoy my matchups.’’
For one play, Beckham woke up and scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Giants, thanks to some divine intervention and some of his mother’s genes, pens Steve Serby of the New York Post.
“I talked to the man above, I said, ‘Wake me up. It’s time to wake up.’ And sure enough we came to life.”
And so Beckham knifed inside Brandon Carr and Manning hit him in stride and hearts broken all night began racing with Beckham, chased by Carr, all the way to the end zone. And just like that, the whole night changed, and maybe the whole season changed along with it.
This time, it wasn’t Beckham’s right hand reaching up behind his head to shock the Cowboys. It was his legs, racehorse legs gifted him by his track-star mother, that electrified MetLife Stadium with this 61-yard touchdown that gave the Giants a 10-7 lead and victory at a time when you wondered whether Manning and Ben McAdoo had lost their bold way. After Beckham had beaten himself up over a pair of drops.
“Just caught a slant, tried to hit a gear, I could feel somebody running,” Beckham said. “Carr was running as fast as I’ve ever felt somebody chasing me, I don’t know whether it’s sixth sense, whatever it was, you could just feel him on your back, on your neck. I had to hit another gear, shoutout to my mom, ‘Thank you for the hamstrings.’ ”
The Giants host the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Meanwhile, for the Cowboys, Dak Prescott threw for 165 yards and a touchdown, along with two interceptions, while fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran for 107 yards on 24 carries. Terrance Williams had five catches for 76 yards and the lone touchdown for Dallas.
After Dez Bryant’s rough game, fellow wide receiver Terrance Williams tried to lift his spirits up, according to Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News.
Fellow receiver Terrance Williams tried to lift Bryant’s spirits in the somber locker room. It was Williams who led Dallas in receiving, totaling 76 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown catch. It was Williams who was ridiculed following the first loss to the Giants because he failed to get out of bounds to stop the clock late. Dallas ran out of time before it could attempt a 60-plus yard, game-winning field goal.
“Hey, D.B., I’ll keep you right all week,” Williams kept telling Bryant.
“Whenever I do something wrong,” Williams explained, “in practice, or Week 1 or just life, that’s the dude that always keeps me right. Instead of how most people do and turn their backs. … I just tell him I got his back no matter what. Because he’s always been there for me.
“I told him I’m going to keep him right all week, whether he’s got to tell me to shut up or not. I’m going to keep him right because nobody can stop Dez Bryant. I truly believe that.”
With Prescott’s struggles against the Giants last night, Gil Lebreton of the Fort Worth Star Telegram asks if it opens the door for Tony Romo to return as the starter.
Can offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and his staff “fix” Prescott in time for the playoffs?
They have no choice, unless [Jason] Garrett wants to wade into the deep end of the pool and replace Prescott next week with Romo. Or, at least, have Romo ready for the Bucs in case Dak experiences another sputtering start.
As Romo reminded everyone when reading his abdication statement last month, football is a meritocracy. You’re paid to win — and played if you do win.
If the idea ever drifted into Garrett’s head Sunday, he didn’t show it. Romo kept his wintry garb close to his uniformed chest and was never spotted huddling or warming up when he was needed in the fourth quarter.
The Cowboys are back on Sunday Night Football next week, as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.