Redskins screen the Cowboys defense

This interactive edition of Chalkboard Stats previews Monday Night Football’s Washington Redskins-Dallas Cowboys matchup by breaking down a big play from their previous meeting in Week 15 of last season. The Redskins used deception and a rare play-call to narrow the gap in the second quarter, but the Cowboys went on to win the game 33-30.

Click on the “podcast” buttons wherever you see one to hear Stats & Info’s John Parolin provide play commentary and Next Level statistical analysis.

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Down two scores, the Redskins faced a 2nd-and-14 from the Cowboys' 19-yard line. Mike Shanahan spread out the Dallas defense by lining up three skill players to the left, then attacked them by calling a screen pass to the right.

The Redskins have called 10 screen passes in the red zone since the beginning of last season, tied for the most in the NFL. Quarterbacks in Shanahan's offense have completed nine such passes for 70 yards and four first downs, all league-high totals.

Dallas loads the box with defenders prior to the snap and shows blitz, playing into Rex Grossman's hands. No team had more yards after the catch on red-zone screens than the Redskins and Ryan Torain takes this pass 22 yards to the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.


Shanahan was a step ahead of the Dallas defense on this play. Rex Grossman has a 22.3 Total QBR against five or more pass rushers since the beginning of last season so the Cowboys brought pressure to exploit Grossman's weakness.

But that aggression turned into a liability when Grossman was able to get rid of the ball. Once center Casey Rabach and right guard Will Montgomery sealed a pair of Cowboys defenders Ryan Torain was able to coast untouched into the end zone.


When the Cowboys defense brings extra pressure, they better get to the quarterback. Dallas has had 23 sacks with five or more pass rushers since the beginning of last season, tied for sixth-highest in the NFL.

However it struggled when the opposing quarterback was able to release the ball. Dallas allowed 20 touchdowns when sending extra pressure, the most in the league. The Cowboys also picked off only three passes against extra pressure, tied for third-fewest in the NFL.