Sunday, December 27, 2009
Cowboys-Redskins key matchups
By Tim MacMahon
All due respect to the Washington Redskins – which isn’t much after their Monday night mail-in effort – but Sunday night’s game is all about the Dallas Cowboys. Can the Cowboys continue to play at a level close to the one they reached in the Superdome? Can the Cowboys actually peak at the right time? The Cowboys prepared for the Redskins this week, but they focused on themselves.
Nevertheless, we’ll give you a matchup on both sides of the ball that merits watching:
Redskins TE Fred Davis vs. Cowboys SS Gerald Sensabaugh: Davis, a 2008 second-round pick, has blossomed since Chris Cooley went on injured reserve. The Cowboys, keyed by Sensabaugh, have done a solid job against tight ends all season.
Davis has 17 catches for 211 yards and five touchdowns in the last four games. At 6-4, 257 pounds, he does his best work in the red zone.
It should help Sensabaugh that the Redskins’ running game doesn’t pose much of a threat. Washington is relying on third- and fourth-string tailbacks Rock Cartwright and Quinton Ganther, so Sensabaugh shouldn’t be fooled by play-action.
Nickel linebacker Bobby Carpenter will also match up with Davis a lot, but the emerging tight end will be Sensabaugh’s responsibility in the base defense on most plays.
Cowboys WR Miles Austin vs. Redskins FS LaRon Landry: Folks will be waiting to see what happens when Roy Williams goes across the middle, since Landry called him out for being “scared” after last month’s Redskins-Cowboys meeting.
But Jason Garrett ought to scheme to get Austin matched up with Landry as often as possible.
Landry tends to give up big plays by biting on double-moves, which he did twice in the Redskins’ recent overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints. Austin, who explodes in and out of his breaks, excels on those types of routes.
If Landry respects Austin’s ability to get deep, that should give the Cowboys’ potential Pro Bowler plenty of room to work over the middle, putting him in situations to display his outstanding ability to run after the catch.
That would force Landry to make tackles in the open field, exposing another major flaw in the trash-talking safety’s game.