NFL Washington Redskins

Five Reasons Why the Washington Redskins Beat the Dallas Cowboys

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The future is now for the Washington Redskins

Alfred and Robert
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins’ 28-18 Week 17 home victory over the Dallas Cowboys was a monumental shift in fortunes for the Redskins. The NFC East is the most polarizing division in the NFL. The Cowboys, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles were the division’s most talented teams for many years. Each of those teams always received a lot of attention for a variety of reasons.

However, the Redskins were relegated to being an afterthought. They were always considered the red headed stepchild of the division. Washington has been ridiculed by NFL fans in recent years for poor personnel decisions involving big spending on big free agents. Of course, those acquisitions yielded small results. The Redskins have been the NFC East bottom feeders for many years, just an easy win for the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles on their way to NFL dominance.

2012 looked like more of the same for Washington, after a 21-13 Week Nine loss to the one win Carolina Panthers. Another dismal Redskins' season was upon us. But we were wrong. Under the leadership of head coach Mike Shanahan, the Redskins reeled off six consecutive wins to earn a chance at the NFC East title against their hated rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. It’s the kind of opportunity Redskins’ fans have dreamed of for a long time.

The Redskins didn’t disappoint their home faithful. They beat Dallas in front of a nationally televised audience to capture their first division title since 1999. As for the Cowboys, they’re left with yet another season without a playoff appearance. The Cowboys are left scratching their heads at being denied another opportunity to fulfill the greatness bestowed upon “America’s Team”. Simply put, the Dallas Cowboys are due for another long, cold winter.

Meanwhile, the Redskins will participate in the NFC playoff for the first time since 2007. With that said, here are five reasons why the Washington Redskins beat the Dallas Cowboys:

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Alfred Morris carries the Redskins’ offense.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III was not his usual dynamic self. While he logged six carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, Griffin III was pedestrian in the passing game. He threw for only 100 yards, an unsustainable total for success in Washington.

Luckily for the Redskins, running back Alfred Morris was up to the task of providing offensive stability. He proved once again capable of being a workhorse back with 33 carries for 200 yards and three rushing touchdowns. The NFL is a passing league. However, teams must be able to run the ball efficiently to keep the opposition’s offense on the sidelines. Morris continues to show he’s the featured back in Washington, and he’s one of the reasons the Redskins emerged victorious.

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The Redskins’ defense rises to the occasion.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Redskins’ defense will be maligned no more. They once again employed a bend but don’t break mentality against Dallas. Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray earned 76 yards rushing to pace Dallas’ ground game. Washington’s pass defense was also able to contain Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant, holding him to only four catches and no touchdowns.

The Redskins also forced three Dallas turnovers, including two within the red zone that thwarted potential scoring drives for the Cowboys. As simple as it may sound, while Washington has given up a lot of yards at times, they’ve been able to prevent opponents from scoring at the most critical times. The Redskins’ defense is another reason why Washington emerged victorious over Dallas.

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Tony Romo is unable to deliver in the biggest moments.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo is statistically one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Romo’s three Pro Bowl appearances is proof of that. However, when Dallas has needed their star quarterback to deliver in the clutch, more often than not, Romo has not been able to answer the call. Maybe the season finale against Dallas’ most hated rival would change that.

But it was not meant to be. Romo threw three interceptions, with Redskins’ cornerbacks Richard Crawford and Josh Wilson, as well as Washington linebacker Rob Jackson, being the beneficiaries of Romo’s generosity. Whatever momentum Dallas built in their game with Washington was erased by Romo’s interceptions, and certainly contributed to Washington’s victory.

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Dallas Cowboys’ injuries to key players hamper their efforts.

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Cowboys’ perennial Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware did not wreck his usual havoc because of an injured shoulder. While he gave a gutsy performance, the Redskins’ offensive line was able to render Ware a non-factor. On offense, Bryant and fellow Cowboys’ wide receiver Miles Austin were playing with an injured finger and injured ankle, respectively.

While the Cowboys had the full availability of perennial Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, he can’t be Romo’s only proven target. With Bryant and Austin ailing, Dallas was forced to play immortal receivers Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, and Cole Beasley to save the Cowboys’ season. They were unable to do so, which is another reason why the Redskins’ season will continue, and Dallas’ season will not.

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The Redskins had more to lose.

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Throughout the Dallas-Washington rivalry, it always seemed that the Cowboys would always come out on top. Five Super Bowl titles for Dallas, compared to three for Washington prove that point. However, the Redskins have never had a player at any position as dynamic as Griffin III. As the undisputed leader of the Redskins, the man nicknamed “RG3” provides hope for a historically proud franchise that has fallen on hard times.

There was no way Washington could lose on this night. The Redskins have come so far, and endured so much in 2012. To have them lose this game on their home field with so much on the line would have been devastating. While Griffin III was not dynamic, his presence and will to win allowed the Redskins to exorcise demons of past failures and defeat the Dallas Cowboys.