This past weekend's renewal of the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry wasn't supposed to be that interesting. Sure, the Cowboys have shown a maddening ability to lose games this year, but since starting 3-1, the Redskins haven't shown any ability to win games whatsoever. Despite the seven game losing streak and the seemingly superior opponent, Rex Grossman and the Redskins reminded us just how difficult the road game can be in the NFL. It took four full periods of back-and-forth play and overtime for the Cowboys to finally dispatch the Redskins by a score of 27-24.
Let's break down the big plays for the Cowboys:
The Cowboys didn't run roughshod over the Redskins on third downs by any means -- overall, they were 8-for-17 and committed one penalty (a false start in overtime) as well. But many of Romo's biggest completions came on these plays. A 22-yard first quarter touchdown to Dez Bryant, a seven-yard fourth quarter touchdown to Laurent Robinson, a 59-yard fourth quarter touchdown to Jason Witten, and a 23-yard pickup on third-and-15 to set up the game winning kick in overtime -- all four came on third-down passes and all picked up at least 10% of win probability and at least 2.5 expected points added.
The home field can be a great equalizer for bad teams. Even so, the GWP model still saw a solid 68% chance for the Cowboys to walk away from FedEx Field as winners. The Redskins were just one third down stop away form pulling off Week 11's biggest upset. Unfortunately, as the Redskins have likely come to learn over the course of their six-game losing streak, almost doesn't count for too much in sports.