NFC East: 2013 Week 12 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Washington Redskins

November, 25, 2013
11/25/13
11:33
PM ET

LANDOVER, Md. -- A few thoughts and observations after the Washington Redskins' 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

What it means: The Redskins are a mess. They're 3-8 and have dropped the notion that they can turn their season around. Now they just have to salvage it and prove that they are indeed headed in the right direction. You can blame the salary-cap penalty and Robert Griffin III's knee all you want, but this team has more issues that must be addressed. The Redskins are now staring at a third double-digit loss season in four years and that can't be acceptable for anyone, not when the team -- from the top on down -- expressed great optimism in the summertime despite knowing they were coming off two years of cap hell and that Griffin had no offseason. San Francisco is a better team so there's no shame in losing, but to not play well at home and on "Monday Night Football" is not a good thing. The Redskins have five weeks to prove that another direction is not needed.

Stock report: Down -- cornerback Josh Wilson. He was in a mismatch against the 49ers' bigger targets -- not just in terms of height, but overall size. A tough night for Wilson. Also, Griffin and the pass game in general. His protection did not help him, but Griffin was unable to make plays on his own downfield. The 49ers used a lot of two-deep looks, which always makes it difficult for this passing game. Griffin missed one chance when he failed to lead Aldrick Robinson on a deep ball. Robinson still had a chance to catch the ball -- and should have caught the ball -- but if Griffin throws it out front a little bit it's a touchdown. That is, if Robinson catches it on the run. Still, too many breakdowns up front, including by left tackle Trent Williams.

Wherefore art thou?: Tight end Fred Davis barely played and was not much of a factor when he did get into the game. We'll have to find out why that's the case and if there were circumstances that kept him from playing more (his week of preparation, for example). The Redskins' starting tight ends, Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul, did not play well.

Second-half breakdown: The Redskins had just 30 total yards in the second half after gaining 160 in the first half. They managed just 7 yards in the third quarter.

Up next: The Redskins get to play another game in prime time, which is probably not what this team needs. They host the New York Giants on Sunday night. America might be giving thanks on Thursday; it probably won't be Sunday night.

Rapid Reaction: Dallas Cowboys

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
7:47
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys' 24-21 win against the New York Giants on Sunday.

What it means: The Cowboys find themselves back in first place in the NFC East with the win, thanks to the tiebreaker over the Philadelphia Eagles, and can claim an outright share of first place in the division with a win Thursday against the Oakland Raiders.

The Cowboys are 4-0 in the NFC East and swept the Giants for the first time since 2007. It is the fourth time since 1989 the Cowboys have started out 4-0 in the division.

With two weeks to stew over the worst loss of the Jason Garrett era (49-17 to the New Orleans Saints in Week 10), the Cowboys were able come up with a drive that led to a 35-yard, game-winning field goal by Dan Bailey.

A loss would have been traumatic for a team that would have started its traditional December slide a month earlier. Now, the Cowboys figure to find themselves in the race for the rest of the season. Oh, and they all but eliminated the Giants, who entered on a four-game winning streak.

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Stock watch: Tony Romo, rising. With the season on the line, like it was against the Minnesota Vikings earlier in the month, Romo responded on the Cowboys' final drive, completing six of nine passes to set up the winning kick. Two of the incompletions were drops by Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, respectively. With everybody wondering what Romo would do in a big moment, he came up big.

Clutch late: Before the final drive of the game for the Cowboys, the only third-down conversion was Jason Witten’s third-quarter touchdown. On the winning drive, the Cowboys converted three times on third down.

Bryant had a 19-yard grab after a third-and-7 following a Tyron Smith false start penalty. Bryant converted on third-and-5 with an 8-yard grab from the slot. On third-and-10, Cole Beasley picked up 13 yards to set up Bailey’s game winner.

Still can’t stop the run: The Cowboys have been historically bad with their pass defense through 10 games, but what was lost in the New Orleans game was just how poor their run defense was.

The Saints ran for 242 yards against the Cowboys. The Giants ran for 202 Sunday. Andre Brown had 127 yards. Brandon Jacobs had 75 yards.

The Cowboys missed Sean Lee badly. Ernie Sims was consistently out of position, but the defensive line didn’t do much to help the linebackers, either.

It was the third time the Cowboys have allowed 200 yards rushing in a game. The Washington Redskins had 216 on Oct. 13.

What’s next: The Cowboys have a quick turnaround with the Raiders visiting AT&T Stadium on Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving Game. The Cowboys have lost two of their past three games on Thanksgiving but beat the Raiders 24-7 on Nov. 26, 2009.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
7:39
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 24-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:

What it means: You have to think it's over now, right? The Giants' four-game winning streak came to an end in a tough game in which Dan Bailey's 35-yard field goal went through the uprights as time ticked away, and now they are 4-7 with five games left in their season. The Giants ran the ball well, but Eli Manning and the passing game couldn't even get 200 yards against a pass defense that was allowing a league-worst 313 yards per game coming in. Now, the Giants need to win all five of their December games just to finish above .500. Dreams of a miracle run to the playoffs all but died in the cold at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.

Stock watch: The running game -- UP. The Giants ran for more than 200 yards in a game for the first time since Oct. 7 of last year. Andre Brown went over 100 yards for the second time in his three games this season, and Brandon Jacobs contributed with a couple of surprisingly big plays. His 37-yard gain in the first half was the first Giants' run play of the season that covered at least 20 yards. The interior of the offensive line, even after losing center Jim Cordle to a knee injury, did a fine job of opening holes for the running backs, and the Giants stuck with the run even though they were trailing all game.

Sacks are back: After being largely absent during the season-opening, six-game losing streak, the Giants pass rush has returned over the past month. They sacked Tony Romo four times Sunday. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins collected two by himself as the interior of the Giants defensive line continues to be a consistent strength of the team.

Bonehead plays: There were plenty both ways, but Mathias Kiwanuka picked up a couple of damaging personal-foul calls that ranked among the lowlights of the 11 penalties assessed against the Giants. The Cowboys were called for 11 as well.

What's next: The Giants play their first road game since Oct. 27 when they travel to Washington for an 8:30 p.m. ET game against the Redskins next Sunday night. The Redskins are 3-7 heading into this week's "Monday Night Football" game against the 49ers.

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