The injury to Pro Bowl kicker Dan Bailey has not cost the Dallas Cowboys a game, because a player the Cincinnati Bengals did not want bailed them out.
Mike Nugent, this is your life. Enjoy this day. You saved it.
The kicker signed off the street to replace the money right leg of Dan Bailey, who is out with a groin injury, hit four of five field goals in windy, rainy, nasty conditions as the Cowboys defeated the Washington Redskins 33-19.
The Cowboys are 4-3 and over .500 for the first time since Week 1.
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Hand it to the defense, but give it to Nugent and the special teams for making this win possible.
Nugent began his Cowboys’ career by missing his first attempt, a 48-yarder in the first quarter. Then he ripped off four in a row from 36, 48, 27 and 37 yards. He also made three conversion kicks.
We expect this from Dan Bailey, but in these conditions they were not a gimme.
Washington kicker Nick Rose found this out. He missed a PAT.
But it was his other kick that changed the game.
With the Redskins leading 13-7 late in the second quarter, Rose had his kick blocked by Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford.
Cowboys defensive back Orlando Scandrick picked it up, and returned it to the Cowboys’ 10 yard line. That led to a Cowboys’ touchdown, which gave them the lead, and the momentum, necessary to win in brutal conditions on the road.
1. One day before the Cowboys will learn the fate of running back Ezekiel Elliott in a New York court, Zeke fumbled on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
After that goof, he made all of his fantasy football owners happy people as he ran for more than 100 yards for the third consecutive game, and scored two touchdowns.
He ran a career-high 33 times for 150 yards.
As evidenced by the penalties against La’el Collins and Tyron Smith, the offensive line is not perfect, but Zeke has hit his stride and looks like the running back who was the best in the NFL in 2016.
Now, all he has to be is clear to play next week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
1.5 Props to the fans who attended any part of the game on Sunday. Heavy rain was scheduled to arrive shortly before kickoff, and it did. The rain stayed throughout the game and made for a generally uncomfortable day for everyone here.
2. The Redskins lost pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan during the game to an injury, which La’el Collins found relief in, but the absence of Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams killed quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Williams was unavailable to play because of injury, and the the Cowboys defensive line applied constant pressure on Cousins. DeMarcus Lawrence continues his push to be named to the All-Pro team; he had a sack and two hits on Cousins.
David Irving has been a beast since he came off the suspension list and added two sacks. And Tyrone Crawford had a sack.
Even safety Byron Jones made a play; he caught a tipped pass by Irving and returned it 21 yards for the game-sealing touchdown with 19 seconds remaining.
3. Before the game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told Cowboys’ radio sideline reporter Kristi Scales the team is not looking to trade slot receiver Cole Beasley. At this point, why not?
While most of the media attention has focused on the season of Dez Bryant, and to a lesser extent Terrance Williams, lost in this is the disappearance of a player who had developed into one of the NFL’s better slot receivers.
Against the Redskins, Beasley had a “break out” game — two receptions for 8 yards. Now in his seventh season, Beasley has a career-low 18 receptions for 106 yards.
Typical of his season, Beasley suffered a concussion near the end of the third quarter and did not return.
How and why this falloff has happened are a variety of factors, but the Cowboys are going to remain with him because the player they drafted as a Beasley-starter kit, Ryan Switzer, isn’t close.
As evidenced by his continued baffling-decisions on punt returns against Washington, and inability to get open in the passing game, the Cowboys have to stick with Beasley.
Mac Engel: @macengelprof