Three Thoughts: Colt McCoy leads Washington to an upset win in Dallas
With Colt McCoy at the helm, the underdog Redskins knocked around (and briefly knocked from the game) Tony Romo en route to a dramatic 20-17 overtime upset. McCoy finished the night 25-of-30 for 299 yards, an interception and a rushing touchdown.
The result snapped Dallas' six-game win streak and allowed Philadelphia to keep pace in the NFC East race, despite losing at Arizona on Sunday.
Three thoughts from the thrilling Monday nighter:
1. On the Tony Romo injury: The Cowboys' season flashed before their eyes as Romo lay prone on the AT&T turf, trainers checking his surgically repaired back after he took an inadvertent knee from Washington's Keenan Robinson.
Over Dallas' first seven games, Romo had played some of the best football of his career. Had his injury turned out to be serious, the Cowboys' playoff hopes might have vanished. So, the bright side for the Cowboys on this night is that Romo returned and, presumably, will be OK moving forward.
But ... and there's always a but ... should Romo have gone back in the game? Brandon Weeden came in while Romo was being evaluated in the locker room. There is absolutely no question Romo gives Dallas its best chance to win, in general -- we are not talking about the making of a QB controversy here -- but on this particular Monday night, Romo barely made it off the field and into the locker room with the team's trainers following that Robinson hit.
What happened after Romo came back merely piled on the potential second-guessing: Washington won as Romo struggled. He fumbled deep in his own end (Dallas recovered), he nearly threw an interception and his final two passes in OT fell incomplete.
Would a healthy Weeden have given the Cowboys a better chance than a hobbled Romo?
2. Colt McCoy gets it done: On a 1st-and-10 from the Dallas 45 in overtime, McCoy escaped the pocket moving to his left and while on the run managed, somehow, to float a pass into Jordan Reed's arms. Reed made a remarkable tip-toe grab along the sideline for 16 yards.
Four plays later, Washington's Kai Forbath kicked what would be the game-winning field goal.
McCoy's NFL career has been a constant string of disappointments, from the moment he slid from being a potential Round 1 pick all the way to No. 85 in the draft. When McCoy signed with the Redskins back in April, it was as little more than a safety net in case Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins needed backup.
Well, here we are. And there McCoy was on Monday, pulling off a stunning overtime upset in the state where he starred as a college QB, with his parents watching from the stands.
"It was our moment," McCoy said. "Our offense played well and our defense played outstanding. I made tons of mistakes tonight but my teammates stuck with me, my coaches stuck with me and it's sweet."
McCoy may be headed back to the bench as early as next week -- Griffin is close to be able to play again, weeks after suffering a dislocated left ankle. Either way, Washington can take solace in knowing that McCoy will be ready to go if and when called upon again.
3. Jim Haslett scores a TKO on Scott Linehan: Haslett has earned ample criticism during his time as Washington's defensive coordinator. Last season, his group finished 30th in points allowed; heading into Monday, the Redskins sat 25th there, having coughed up more than 26 points per game.
But Monday may have marked one of Haslett's finest hours as a member of the Washington staff.
Overmatched on paper, with a defense now down Brian Orakpo for the year pitted against Romo, Dez Bryant, league MVP candidate DeMarco Murray and an offensive line that had dominated to date, Haslett decided to go for broke. He dialed up heavy blitz after heavy blitz, opting to outnumber the Dallas line rather than ask his players to win tough one-on-one battles.
The plan worked. Time and again, Redskins defenders came free at the quarterback. That's exactly what happened on the play that left Romo hurting, as Robinson flew up the middle untouched. Same thing on Romo's late fourth quarter fumble, when Murray failed to pick up a blitzing Brandon Meriweather.
Linehan, the Cowboys' play caller, either never found an adjustment or the Cowboys simply failed to execute the changes. Romo wound up being sacked five times and hurried repeatedly.
The pattern played itself out right until the game's final play, as a frantic Romo dodged defenders only to fired incomplete to Dez Bryant (covered by rookie Bashaud Breeland, who was outstanding in the game).
Dallas' staff had done a marvelous job getting this team to 6-1. It was simply outcoached on Monday.