Dalton, Cowboys hope to rebound against Washington
The only time Andy Dalton played at Washington, he tossed three touchdown passes and guided Cincinnati to 478 yards of offense in a 38-31 victory.
With the way Dallas is playing defense this season, those numbers from September 2012 might not be enough when his Cowboys (2-4) face the Washington Football Team (1-5) on Sunday afternoon at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
The Cowboys have allowed 218 points, the most by any team in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) through six games. They are just the fifth team in NFL history to allow 34-plus points in five straight games. If Washington hits that mark on Sunday, Dallas will set a dubious record.
The Cowboys’ mistake-prone offense has exacerbated the problem with 15 turnovers. A minus-12 turnover margin not only ranks last in the NFL, but it’s nearly twice as terrible as the next-worst teams (Minnesota, Philadelphia at minus-7).
“We’re putting ourself at a disadvantage. … When you put yourself in the hole in the NFL like that, then you’re playing catch-up and you’re going uphill,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday. “We can’t play and win any games and create that kind of edge for a team giving us that much adversity and giving them that kind of encouragement early in the ballgames.
“That’s a death sentence in the NFL.”
In Monday night’s 38-10 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals, Dalton threw two interceptions in his first start for the injured Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott lost two fumbles for the first time in his five-year career. Arizona turned the turnovers into 24 points.
Still, Dallas heads to the nation’s capital as the NFC East leader and will face a Washington team that has dropped five straight games, the longest active losing streak in the NFC.
Washington is coming off a 20-19 road loss Sunday to the New York Giants, when its two-point conversion attempt failed with 36 seconds remaining. Kyle Allen completed 31 of 42 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns, but also lost a fumble and threw a pick. Coach Ron Rivera has declared him the team’s current starter ahead of second-year QB Dwayne Haskins, who went 1-3 in the team’s first four games.
Slow starts have doomed Washington, which has been outscored 108-44 in the first half — including 47-14 in the first quarter.
“We are making progress,” Rivera said Monday. “I don’t know if we have all the pieces. I do think we have some guys that are more than capable of winning, and it’s a matter of having enough of those guys. It’s also a matter of having the mentality, of understanding what it takes to win, what do you have to do to win, how do you have to play to win.
“… The thing I like is just the fact that we have a lot of young guys playing right now and this is their opportunity to learn and grow together.”
Rivera lost two rookies to injuries against the Giants, with wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden (hamstring) and offensive lineman Saahdiq Charles (knee) both missing practice Wednesday. Also out were cornerback Ronald Darby (illness), defensive end James Smith-Williams (concussion), tight end Logan Thomas (neck) and wideout Isaiah Wright (shoulder). Rookie DE Chase Young (groin) was a limited participant.
An already patchwork Dallas offensive line lost left tackle Brandon Knight (knee) and All-Pro right guard Zack Martin (concussion) to injuries Monday. Tackle Cam Erving (knee) practiced Wednesday and could come off injured reserve.
Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory was added to the 53-man roster this week and could make his 2020 debut on Sunday after serving a substance-abuse suspension. Defensive end Aldon Smith did not practice Wednesday with a neck injury.
The Cowboys have won three straight meetings with Washington and seven of the last eight.
–Field Level Media