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Several times in the last two games, in fact, Hall has gotten turned around by receivers who break to sideline while he’s playing them with outside leverage. Dallas WR Jesse Holley beat him like that for a 17-yard completion on third-and-12 in the first half. It extended a drive that ended in a field goal. I think Hall would be the first to tell you he shouldn’t be beaten in single coverage by Jesse Holley.

Those negative plays overshadowed what Hall did well. He effectively supported the run defense. His backside contain helped limit RB DeMarco Murray to 2 yards on a fourth-quarter run. He also tackled Murray for a loss of 2 on a second-quarter screen pass and helped the Redskins get off the field on a second-quarter third-and-6 by cutting off WR Kevin Ogletree’s slant route.

FS OSHIOMOGHO ATOGWE: Atogwe was involved in two negative pass plays that helped decide the outcome.

He admittedly played with “bad technique” on the Cowboys‘ first touchdown. He was a step and a half late getting to WR Dez Bryant at the right sideline in the end zone. QB Tony Romo appeared to freeze Atogwe with his eyes. Atogwe was moving toward the sideline but hesitated when Romo stared him down. That created enough time for Romo’s 22-yard touchdown pass.

Atogwe also was in double coverage against Bryant when Bryant caught a 26-yard pass on third-and-15 to extend the Cowboys‘ game-winning field goal drive in overtime. Atogwe showed blitz before dropping to help CB DeAngelo Hall cover Bryant inside and underneath, but Atogwe didn’t change directions to match Bryant when he stopped and broke back out to the sideline.

Atogwe said after the game that he felt relatively healthy, and he did move much better than in the Buffalo game. He protected the deep middle on a first-half throw to WR Dez Bryant that landed incomplete. Atogwe recovered into a good position after playing a different receiver to start the play, and he made a diving attempt on the ball.


No game balls this week for the defensive line because the consistency and impact plays weren’t there, but there was a lot to like, as evidenced by RB DeMarco Murray’s 2.9-yard rushing average. Each lineman made positive contributions.

NT Barry Cofield kept Dallas’ guards off the inside linebackers on runs of 0 and 3 yards on Dallas’ first series. He also forced Murray to bounce a first-quarter draw outside because he clubbed C Phil Costa to the ground with his right arm. That was an awesome display of strength. Costa got a measure of revenge by blocking Cofield to seal the running lanes on consecutive fourth-quarter rushes that totaled 11 yards.

RDE Stephen Bowen did his best Ryan Kerrigan impersonation and finished a high-motor sack in the third quarter. SS DeJon Gomes disrupted the pocket with his blitz, and QB Tony Romo lost his poise. At one point during the play, Bowen was three yards further behind the line of scrimmage than Romo was, but he outlasted LT Doug Free and sacked Romo from behind. Bowen hit Romo 6.2 seconds after the snap, which is an incredibly long time. Romo should have checked down to TE Martellus Bennett or thrown it away.

LDE Adam Carriker beat RG Kyle Kosier to the outside for a second-quarter half-sack by disengaging with a strong swipe of his arms. That forced Romo to step up into NT Chris Neild’s grasp. Carriker helped finish the sack from behind. Carriker and Neild also anchored on a first-quarter run that went for no gain. They stood up Costa and RT Tyron Smith, respectively, with superior leverage. Gomes came forward and made the stop.

ROLB Brian Orakpo did not have a sack for the 15th time in 16 career games against NFC East opponents. However, he positively impacted the run defense and effectively pressured QB Tony Romo at times.

Orakpo bull-rushed LT Doug Free close enough to Romo to alter Romo’s swing pass to RB DeMarco Murray in the fourth quarter. Romo didn’t step into the throw and it was low. He also stopped Murray for no gain on a third-and-1 in the fourth quarter by getting his hands into TE Jason Witten’s chest and getting inside Witten.

Ultimately, though, one of the lasting images from this game is Romo spinning away from Orakpo’s pressure and buying time to complete a 59-yard touchdown to Witten. The Cowboys doubled or chipped Orakpo only four times out of 31 pass rushes, which means Free beat him one-on-one too many times. Losing to Miami’s Jake Long last week was one thing — he’s an All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowler. Doug Free is not Jake Long.

• For comparison’s sake, the Cowboys doubled or chipped LOLB Ryan Kerrigan four times out of 30 pass rushes. Without having recorded how each opponent has handled Kerrigan and Orakpo, this at least indicates a similar level of attention to both.

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