Is it a rivalry if one team always wins? Prior to Sunday, Washington was a miserable 2-6 under Jay Gruden versus Dallas, including four-straight losses at the hands of high-yellow, hairline pushed back and always proud to tap dance for his owner, quarterback, Dak Prescott. Prescott had never committed a turnover in those four games. Mid-drift model running back, Ezekiel Elliott, had eaten to the tune of approximately 5,000 rushing yards in the last matchup. Las Vegas handicapped the game as a "pick 'em" and with it being played in Raljon, Washington was essentially an underdog. So, is this rivalry really still a thing? HAIL. YES.
In front of their most-spirited home crowd of the season and with Dallas's best QB option doing color commentary from the booth, Washington recorded a mythical second-straight win, defeating the Cowboys 20-17. The result was like my first car in high school: it wasn't much to look at, people laughed at it, but somehow it ran and got to where it needed to be. So who contributed to this glorious win? I'm glad you asked! Welcome to the sixth of sixteen #SundaySlices recaps, where we cut up the game to assign fame and blame, based on the outcome, into delicious pie chart form. Try not to make a mess.
(These are the players/coaches/etc. who are not in the pie, because they did not contribute to the win)
Stroman got smoked like Canada's legalization day, allowing Dallas to score a long touchdown before halftime. He also received the blunt treatment two weeks ago in the Saints game. Quinton Dunbar: get well sooner than later.
If you're discussing the greatest basketball player of all-time, 23 is a good number (some guy named Jordan wore it, also), but when there are 32 teams in the league and you rank 23 in third down conversion percentage, a 3-for-12 performance ain't the best.
Alex Smith did the thing he really couldn't do. He ran out of bounds instead of keeping it in bounds on that scramble. Bad Alex. Naughty Alex.— Aaron Schatz 🏈 (@FO_ASchatz) October 21, 2018
Smith is finding himself in this section a lot, and to be honest, I'm torn on placing him here. A win is a win, he was only sacked once and again, most importantly: zero turnovers. HOWEVER, that run out of bounds in the fourth was excruciating. Furthermore, in battles as close as these, with the offense struggling to score like a gameless teenager, THIS cannot happen:
Kapri Bibbs: 5%
There are definitely some cheap puns involving Bibbs's size and the short-ness of "Kapri" pants--but, I won't stoop that low.
The only player on the roster smaller than Chris Thompson looked like a miniature version of him on his 23-yard screen score. CT is tough to replace, but Bibbs has been sufficient.
Josh Doctson: 5%
The good: Doctson was a beast with downfield run-blocking, helping to spring AP for his longer runs. He also set a season-high in receiving yards!
The Bad: that "high" was only 42 yards. Still, Doc led all Washington players in targets and all three of his catches were for first downs. Let's hope the coach is right:
Gruden happy with Doctson’s game yesterday, got open on slant routes— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) October 22, 2018
“I know people don’t believe me but the plays will come” with Doctson
Ben Kotwcia: 5%
WHO? I was today years old when I found out this gentleman is Washington's special teams coordinator. Maybe I should've known that. And while the return game is more clogged than a Nordstrom's after Christmas, his contribution to the final play on Sunday cannot go understated.
Controversial penalty on #Cowboys LP Ladouceur was result of #Redskins ST coach Ben Kotwica noticing what he considered illegal movement of ball during prep and bringing to Jay Gruden’s attention. Gruden alerted game officials and encouraged them to watch for it.— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) October 22, 2018
Jay Gruden: 10%
While his brother goes scorched-Earth across the country with his roster, the more-talented member of the family, in Washington, continues to do the best he can with what's available. No Thompson. No Crowder. No Richardson. No passing game whatsoever...whoops...I meant, no problem!
Gruden called a solid game, albeit predictable:
I criticised Jay Gruden for running the ball too often on 1st down vs Dallas, so I went and looked it up. they had 17 1st & 10 plays outside of the 2 min drill/red zone. They ran the ball 15 times, passed twice. had 72 yards on the ground at 4.8 ypc. Both passes were incomplete— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) October 24, 2018
The offense STILL has scored only one touchdown in the second half of the first six games--and it was of the meaningless variety, in the New Orleans massacre. If we ever figure out how to replace second half Jay with first half Jay, we could be onto something.
The Offensive Line: 10%
An argument can be made that the best left tackle AND best right guard in the NFL both play on the same team. AP was able to run toward the early bird specials at his diner because of the gaping holes provided by The Hogs 2.0.
Adrian Peterson: 15%
AP currently ranks 10th in the league in rushing--despite already having a bye week--and is on pace for a 1,000-yard season. He's 33. THIRTY-THREE. What he's done so far is incredible and I DEFINITELY knew this was coming back in August:
I don’t know if AP will be good, or hell, even make the 53. But, I do know that if he’s wearing the 26 jersey, he needs to show out in honor of the best RB in team history. That’s right.— Chris Williams (@slimceeVA) August 21, 2018
The Defense: 50%
Last year, there was a team that rotated a mix of young, explosive linemen and edge-rushers with seasoned veterans and the result was a defense that came out of nowhere to propel them to victory. That team was the Philadelphia Eagles. In between their brainiac fans singing the team's nickname letter-by-letter, they managed to win the Super Bowl. You may have heard. While large appendage Nick Foles and the "Philly Special" and Doug Pederson snagged the headlines, their secret to success was a relentless defensive line that frustrated opponents all season. Those blueprints have been stolen.
It's only week 7 and I'm already beginning to run out of superlatives to describe the triumvirate of Allen, Payne and Ioannidis. They continue to absolutely punish opposing offensive lines and sometimes, running backs trying to chip block in pass pro have to get thrown out the club:
D.J. Swearinger has earned his Captain badge this season and once again forced a huge turnover. The secondary had leaks, but nothing too back-breaking.
And then, there were the edge-rushers. Pernell Mcphee and Ryan Anderson were very solid in their spot appearances, with star fullback...I mean...linebacker, Anderson, recording a sack. Preston Smith, well, we know his contribution. But, the highest-paid member of the unit, Ryan Kerrigan, was all dog, all day. You can go ahead and just inject this video into my veins until Thanksgiving's matchup:
#SundaySlices will return following Sunday’s divisional matchup versus the New York Giants. If you have any slice suggestions, critiques, complaints or questions send them to @slimceeVA on Twitter. Should you feel the need to add snarky commentary about pop culture, sports or politics into your life, you can also follow @slimceeVA—and you should.