- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2017

LANDOVER — With rain pouring down at FedEx Field near the end of the third quarter, Kirk Cousins went to drop back and within seconds, a swarm of Dallas Cowboys pass rushers met the Redskins quarterback behind the line of scrimmage —dragging him down.

It was a familiar sight for the Redskins all evening. Cousins, behind a banged-up offensive line, just didn’t have the time to make plays.

Cousins was sacked four times and the Redskins lost to 33-19 to the Cowboys on Sunday, dropping to below .500 and falling to third-place in the NFC East. The Redskins are now 3-4 on the year.

This Redskins-Cowboys game had the potential to get ugly — and fast — due to the rash of injuries to the Redskins’ offensive line.

Before the game, the Redskins ruled out three of their regular starters up front — Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Spencer Long — because of knee injuries. They were replaced by backups T.J. Clemmings, Tyler Catalina and Chase Roullier.



The drop off was steep.

Without any significant time to throw, Cousins and the Redskins had to resort to quick throws, often just short of the first down. For a second straight week, the Redskins struggled on third down — finishing 4 of 13 against the Cowboys.

The Redskins, however, were able to stay competitive, making it a one-score game with less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter when Cousins found wide receiver Josh Doctson for a 1-yard touchdown. Doctson, a play earlier, had drawn a pass interference call in the end zone to set up the score.

Washington even had an opportunity, with 54 seconds remaining, to march downfield for a potential tying score. But, after taking over at their own 12, Cousins was deflected at the line of scrimmage and picked off by Cowboys safety Byron Jones, who returned it for the game-sealing score.

It was the last brutal mistake in a game full of Redskins’ mistakes.

The game began unraveling on the Redskins with a pivotal 10-point swing just before halftime. Nick Rose lined up for a 36-yard field goal with the Redskins up 13-7, but the rookie kicker hit a line drive straight into the hands of Dallas defensive end Tyrone Crawford. The cause? A bad snap that holder Tress Way struggled to get down.

Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick scooped up the ball and returned it for 86 yards, putting the ball on the Redskins’ 2-yard line.

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott punched it two plays later to put the Cowboys up 14-13 with 2:24 left.

Crawford wasn’t done causing havoc.

On the Redskins’ first drive to start the third quarter, Cousins was strip-sacked by Crawford for a loss of eight, and the Cowboys defensive end recovered. The Redskins defense, as it has all year, kept up its “bend but don’t break” mentality, keeping the Cowboys to a field goal.

But the Redskins committed another special teams mistake — this time with Chris Thompson fumbling on a kickoff return, giving the Cowboys the ball at the Washington 27-yard line. Elliott almost torched the Redskins for another touchdown, only to see a 27-yard run called back for holding. Instead, the Redskins — thanks to a Ryan Kerrigan sack on second down — forced the Cowboys to settle for a 48-yard field goal.

Cowboys kicker Mike Nugent drilled two more field goals to take 26-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

Elliott, meanwhile, had a monster day, finishing with 150 yards on 33 carries for two touchdowns.

The Redskins’ makeshift offensive line faced pressure from the very first snap, but was surprisingly effective initially. Washington capitalized on an uncharacteristic Elliott turnover to score first on a 38-yard field goal, just 1:39 in the game.

Washington also answered after the Cowboys easily scored on a five-play, 75-yard drive. Redskins running back Rob Kelley punched in a 1-yard touchdown to put the Redskins up 10-7 with 6:36 left in the first quarter. They got in that position thanks to a methodical seven-play, 75-yard drive of their own.

But the Cowboys adjusted and were able to slow the Redskins’ offense.

It wouldn’t be a Redskins game without more injuries. Over the course of the night, the Redskins lost Jordan Reed (hamstring), Niles Paul (concussion) and Shawn Lauvao (stinger). Clemmings, The Redskins’ starting left tackle, also suffered an ankle injury.

In Lauvao’s case, the left guard was the lone lineman who entered Sunday’s game healthy. He left the game, injured.

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