Under review: Redskins' sacks vs. Cowboys

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins' defense applied more pressure against Dallas than it had in all but one game this season. But their five sacks were probably more impressive than the 10 they had against Jacksonville considering the line and the quarterback they were facing. The Redskins did not overwhelm Dallas with power, rather with good timing and execution. Here's how they did it:

  1. Third-and-5. The Redskins show five along the line, including safety Brandon Meriweather outside to the right. Tony Romo anticipated a different blitz, audibled and had Jason Witten motion from the left side to the right. Perry Riley sold an A-gap blitz on that side so it made sense. But Riley dropped into coverage, Meriweather ran untouched because the left tackle had to block Trent Murphy rushing inside. Romo tried to spin out to the left, but Meriweather quickly adjusted and sacked him.

  2. Third-and-8. Once more, six rushers were along the line with the Redskins overloading the Dallas right side. They showed three potential rushers over the Cowboys’ right side so at the snap, the running back headed there to help. But safety Ryan Clark, one of the three, blitzed untouched off that side as the guard slid left to pick up blitzing Keenan Robinson. Riley rushed through the vacated area, but the back tried to pick him up. That left Clark free. His inside track enabled Romo to escape, but the back couldn’t slow Riley up the middle and when Romo set up, it was too late.

  3. Third-and-3. Frank Kearse flipped from right tackle to left tackle, giving the Redskins another overload situation. But they threw a twist into this rush as Dallas actually picked up a blitzing Meriweather, rushing off the left edge. But Kearse rushed to his left, the guard – rookie Zack Martin -- went with him and was late when Ryan Kerrigan ran a stunt back to the middle. That’s all it took.

  4. Third-and-11. This is the one that knocked Romo from the game and another one where Dallas guessed wrong. The Cowboys used seven blockers for one of the few times during the game, with a tight end on the right side going one-on-one with Kerrigan. That’s because the right tackle anticipated a blitz from Meriweather, just to the inside of Kerrigan. But Meriweather didn’t blitz. So that left the guard and tackle double-teaming Kearse. With the left side of the line and a running back already locked in one-on-one battles – Jason Hatcher slanted to his left, taking the center away – Robinson had a clear path up the middle. A well-designed con job.

  5. Second-and-1. It was just a five-man rush, but it once more fooled the protection. Murphy dropped into coverage and Hatcher started upfield, then rushed wide to draw both the left guard and tackle. Robinson rushed at the right guard and Kerrigan rushed wide. That created a path for Meriweather. Had he not timed it well then perhaps the back, already aligned on the right, might have known he was coming. Instead, the back went to Robinson, which left the linebacker blocked by two and Meriweather free for a clean shot.