The Washington Redskins scored just three points off three Dallas Cowboys turnovers in their 19-16 loss Monday night at FedExField.*
Last week against the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins' offense had problems taking advantage of New York turnovers, but ultimately made enough plays down the stretch to earn a hard-fought NFC East victory.
That theme – struggling to cash in on opponents' turnovers – would rear its ugly head again Monday night against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField. But this time, the Redskins' offense was unable to get things going until less than a minute left in the game.
After tying the game at 16 with 44 seconds left, the Redskins allowed the Cowboys to storm right back, and Dan Bailey's 54-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining was the difference in a 19-16 Washington loss, snapping its five-game home winning streak.
"We just had the inability to make big plays, which was frustrating today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We just couldn't manufacture any big plays, to try to get the drives going seven, eight plays – we just couldn't do it for whatever reason."
In all, the Redskins' defense on Monday forced four Cowboys fumbles, recovering three of them to set up their offense with prime field position. But Washington would get just three points off those three Dallas turnovers.
The Redskins turned the ball over just once, on a DeSean Jackson fumble during a late punt return.
"Yeah, typically the turnover margin is in our favor as much as it was tonight, you'd expect a big win," Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "We were able to move the football and we got down to field goal range, but didn't come away with as many points as you need, and last week, we actually were able to still find a way to win without doing that. But this week we didn't, and it came up short and it was a big reason why (the Redskins lost)."
Cousins and the Redskins' offense struggled to get anything going on most of its drives on Monday. His final stat line – 22-of-31 passing for 219 yards and a touchdown, for a 101.4 quarterback rating – could've been enough to win the game, but without a consistent rushing attack (26 total rushes for 73 yards, a 2.8-yards-per-carry average) and costly penalties were ultimately too much.
Cousins was also sacked three times. The Redskins entered Monday's game having allowed just 17 sacks all season, tied for the fifth-fewest in the NFL.
"Speaking off the top of my head, not having watched it yet, it felt like the penalties that put us in long-yard situations, we had a hard time overcoming," Cousins said. "But when we stayed in manageable third downs or manageable first and second downs, we were able to stay on the field and move the football, and got into field goal range several times but couldn't continue the drive."
Until that final-minute touchdown – a 28-yard strike to Jackson – the Redskins would only score via three Dustin Hopkins field goals.
"We just have to execute better," Gruden said. "Our players have to execute better; we have to put them in better positions to succeed."
Gruden said the team will immediately study the film to try to improve, as it faces a short week before taking on the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier Field.
"I don't know what the reasons were right now – why our runs didn't work as good as we thought they would and why some of our passes and protections – we had a couple sacks early in the game – which are uncharacteristic of our line and our backs."