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Redskins close out Cowboys

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Redskins close out Cowboys

Arlington, Texas -

In summary: In a span of only six days, the Redskins ascended from afterthought to second place in the NFC East. 

And, all of a sudden, talk of a second half run to the postseason no longer sounds so farfetched. In fact, if the Giants lose to Packers on Sunday, the Redskins will play New York for first place in the NFC East on Monday NIght football 11 days from now.

Crazy? Robert Griffin III doesn't think so.

“It feels as if something is building,” Griffin III said after another spectacular outing. “Being 3-6, the character of your team is tested. If you don’t beat the Eagles, you’re 3-7 and you’re likely to kill your season or the morale of your team. Then we come out on Thanksgiving and really dominate the game, let [the Cowboys] back in and close it out. It was big for the mindset of everybody.”

“Hey,” he added, “We might have thought we could do it. Now we know we can do it and it’s in our hands.”

Click here for my Instant Analysis from Thursday's 38-31 triumph, then come back for 10 more notes, quotes and observations from Cowboys Stadium:

Turning point: With the Redskins ahead 21-3 late in the second quarter, cornerback DeAngelo Hall picked off Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo and returned the ball 27 yards to the Dallas 33 yard line. Four plays later, Robert Griffin III found Santana Moss for a scintillating six-yard touchdown that put the visitors firmly in control, 28-3, with five seconds remaining before halftime.

“This game is all about opportunities,” Moss said. “When you get turnovers, you have to capitalize.”

Offensive play of the game: Trailing 3-0 early in the first half, the Redskins struck on another long-range pass. Griffin tossed a bomb to Aldrick Robinson, who hauled the ball in for a 68-yard touchdown – four days after the duo hooked up on a 49-yarder against the Eagles.

Interestingly, Robinson had been whistled for a false start on the previous play. But instead of scrapping the call, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan just flipped alignment. 

“RG3 gave me a great ball,” Robinson said. “Once I saw where he threw it, I knew I had to put my burners on to the play the ball. I ran as fast as I could and got it.”

Defensive play of the game: Trailing 7-3 in the second quarter, the Cowboys were on the move when Romo fired a ball over the middle to Dez Bryant. Bryant made a nice catch, but cornerback Josh Wilson put his helmet on the ball as he went for the tackle, dislodging it and causing a fumble. 

Safety DeJon Gomes recovered the fumble and took it 13 yards to the Cowboys’ 49. Seven plays later, Alfred Morris scored from one yard out to stretch the Redskins’ lead to 14-3. It was Morris’ first touchdown in six games.

Special teams play of the game: Midway through the fourth quarter, Kai Forbath thought the game might come down to a field goal – and it pretty much did. His 48-yarder with 3:03 remaining gave the Redskins a 10-point cushion.

It was Forbath’s first field goal of the day and made him 10 for 10 on the season.

“I tried not to thing about the situation,” he said. “I had a great warmup today and it was our first field goal of the day. But that’s part of the job, to go in there in the fourth quarter when you haven’t kicked one yet and we got it done today.”

Injury report: London Fletcher said he played as long as his ailing left ankle would let him. But after tweaking it for the second time in the fourth quarter, he told the coaching staff that he had become a liability. 

“Everything seems better when you win,” said Fletcher, who sprained the ankle against the Eagles and did not practice all week. “Injuries heal up a lot faster when you win.”

Fletcher also praised Keenan Robinson, who took his spot at inside linebacker. The 37-year-old captain also said he’s fortunate the Redskins now have 11 days until hosting the Giants.

…Linebacker Chris Wilson tweaked his hamstring but returned. He doesn’t believe the injury is serious.

Quote of the day: Hall on sliding at the Cowboys’ two-yard line instead of scoring in the game’s final seconds: “As big of a selfish guy as y’all think I am …” he cracked, making fun of his sometimes contentious relationship with the media. Hall and the reporters who surrounded him laughed. 

Quote of the day, Part II: Griffin on the standout play of his wide receivers: “I told those guys if they ball out like they have been, we can’t be stopped. I was sitting there having a conversation with Trent [Williams] as Pierre [Garçon] was running on his long touchdown. I was like, ‘Man, that was a great catch.’” 

Game ball: Griffin gets it. Morris was very good, running for 113 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. But Griffin stole the show – again. He was 20 of 28 for 311 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. In the past two games, he has tossed eight touchdowns.

“We’ve been able to hit the big plays more so that we were earlier in the year,” Griffin said. “You get more comfortable in the system, more comfortable with the guys around you. Everybody’s clicking at this point and we’re clicking at the right time.”

By the numbers: Griffin is the first Redskins’ quarterback to pass for four touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He’s also the first rookie to have more than one four touchdown performance in the same season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

By the numbers, Part II: With his third quarter interception, Fletcher became only the third active player to have 20 interceptions and 30 sacks. Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher are the others. 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 24, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 78 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 23
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 70

The Redskins week that was

Pressure Points: Focus is on Jay Gruden like never before—So you lost two coordinators and your top two wide receivers? Well, the Redskins gave him a two-year contract extension because they think he can deal with problems like those. Gruden will be cut zero slack.

Post-minicamp 53-man roster projection, offense—Sure, there will be plenty of lip service about everyone having a chance of making the 53-man roster. But this cake is very nearly baked. But the real competition in training camp will be for the 10 practice squad spots. I picked 25 offensive players to make it and I’m confident that 23, maybe 22 of the picks will be right. There seems to be more questions on defense (roster projection here) but even on that side of the ball, few jobs are truly up for grabs.

Redskins in a no-lose situation with confident Galette—We haven’t seen Junior Galette practicing in the spring before. Two years ago, he wasn’t with the team yet and last year he was held out so he could rehab his torn Achilles. That means we don’t have much comparison to make but he did look good. Next step is to do it with the pads on.

Snyder 'THRILLED' with ruling that should protect Redskins name—The legal part of the fight to get the Redskins to change their name is over after the recent Supreme Court ruling. They will not lose their trademark protection, which would effectively force them to change the team. However, it seems likely that the political and social battle will go on.

Is a Redskins-Cousins deal not only possible but probable?—One analyst thinks that the Redskins have too much to lose to not get a deal done by July 17. I think he’s right but I’m not sure if I’ll go along with his odds. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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One surprising stat that puts Vernon Davis at top of NFL tight ends

One surprising stat that puts Vernon Davis at top of NFL tight ends

Vernon Davis played well in 2016, quite well in fact. Signed to a one-year deal after a poor 2015 season, expectations were low for Davis and he over-delivered.

He ended the season with 44 catches and 583 yards to go with two touchdowns, but a stat from Pro Football Focus truly stands out. 

There were 15 tight ends with more yards than Davis, including one on his own team in Jordan Reed. Still, at age 32, Davis had the moves to make defenders miss. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Even early in 2016, as early as training camp, a number of Redskins players mentioned that Davis still had speed and quickness. That didn't change throughout the 16 game season. Pro Football Focus just quantified it. 

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