It is easy to look at the final score - Washington Football Team 41, Dallas Cowboys 16 - and think this game was never close, but this game was close entering the 4th quarter.
And then… woof. The fake punt to end all fake punts helped end the game and put Washington into first place in the NFC East.
And before you go any further, let’s establish this simple truth right here: This will not make sense. You can carve this turkey about 50 different ways, it won’t stand up and start gobbling again.
The more you think about what happened during this play and the decisions that led to this play, just remember this: It. Will. NOT. Make. Sense. At. All.
With all that being said, let’s go over what happened. Here is the situation: After Tim Settle got his fifth sack of the season, Dallas was facing a fourth-and-10 from their own 24. Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy’s decision was to run a fake punt.
Now, this is where the analytics community says it isn’t them who suggested this. Punting the ball would have netted the Cowboys about 1.6 points in win probability per Ben Baldwin’s model.
The result: Hoo, boy.
McCarthy’s take: “It was a solid play call,” the Dallas coach said after the game. “You won’t get anywhere thinking about the negative all the time.”
And this wasn’t just any fake punt it was a fake punt with a reverse. That took the ball carrier almost 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage on a fourth-and-10 play.
Put another way: The Dallas Cowboys put the ball in the hand of a person 25 yards from the line to gain on 4th down. And they were running in the wrong direction when they got the ball.
Of course, let’s also give credit to the Washington Football Team’s punt team for not falling for this terrible play call. If they had, this game may have turned out quite differently.
And the best part: Washington took over on the Dallas 23-yard line and scored a touchdown on the very next play: Antonio Gibson running it in for his second score of the game.
Dallas had a chance to play defense down four points in the fourth quarter. They decided to do… something else.
Do you think you have a clearer understanding? Kinda. Do you think this makes any more sense? Sort of. Do you think all of this was a waste of time and instead of attempting to understand what happened this should have been an article of about 350 words of writing “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA” at the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, Skip Bayless, and everybody else associated with that organization?
Well, sure. That would have been one way to carve that turkey.