Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott had run for 330 yards and five touchdowns in his previous three games against the Washington Redskins. But in the Redskins’ 20-17 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday, Elliott had only 33 yards on 15 carries, and his longest run gained 6 yards.
Washington had sought to find Elliott’s kryptonite by taking Alabama defensive linemen in each of the past two NFL drafts — adding end Jonathan Allen in 2017 and nose tackle Da’Ron Payne (Shades Valley) in 2018. Both played for the first time against Dallas on Sunday.
“Whenever you go against a good back like Ezekiel Elliott, it’s always about controlling the line of scrimmage,” Allen said. “We did that today.”
Payne made four tackles, registered a quarterback hit and tipped a pass. Allen made two tackles and recorded one of the Redskins’ four sacks of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Sunday.
“They draft for the opponents we face,” Washington cornerback Josh Norman said after the game. “And if you don’t win in the trenches in this division, you’re not winning many football games. They won the battle today and now we’re starting to whoop some tail.”
Outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, who followed Allen from the Crimson Tide to Washington last year in the second round of the draft, came off the bench to get his second sack of the season and register two quarterback hits.
Anderson’s sack came on a third-down snap with Dallas at the Washington 29-yard line. The Cowboys had to settle for a field goal, which cut the Redskins’ lead to 13-10 with 9:46 left in the game.
Allen figured in the game’s final play — a field-goal attempt by the Cowboys to tie the game. Allen jumped across the line of scrimmage, reacting to movement of the football by Dallas long snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who was called for a snap infraction — a 5-yard penalty.
Instead of a 47-yard attempt, Brett Maher had to kick from 52 yards. Maher had made 16 consecutive field-goal attempts, but his attempt to tie the game hit the left upright and bounced out — probably good from 47 yards, but not 52.
Allen, Anderson and Payne among the 30 former Alabama players who got on the field during the seventh Sunday of the NFL’s 2018 season.
Other former Alabama players who started on Sunday included:
· Left guard Bradley Bozeman (Handley) and middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (Theodore) of the Baltimore Ravens in a 24-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Mosley led the Ravens with 16 tackles. Bozeman made the first start of his NFL career.
· Safety Eddie Jackson of the Chicago Bears made five tackles in a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots.
· Left cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (Gadsden City) of the Cincinnati Bengals made four tackles in a 45-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
· Defensive end Da’Shawn Hand of the Detroit Lions made one tackle in a 32-21 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
· Cornerback Kareem Jackson of the Houston Texans made three tackles and recovered a fumble in a 20-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jackson recovered a fumble at the Jacksonville 12-yard line, and the Texans scored a touchdown on the next play to take a 20-0 lead.
· Center Ryan Kelly of the Indianapolis Colts in a 37-5 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
· Nose tackle Marcell Dareus (Huffman), safety Ronnie Harrison and running back T.J. Yeldon (Daphne) of the Jaguars against the Texans. Yeldon gained 28 yards on 12 rushing attempts and caught five passes for 40 yards and one touchdown. Yeldon’s 6-yard reception with 2:18 left in the third quarter was his fourth TD reception of 2018, setting a team record for the most by a running back in one season. Yeldon also made two tackles after Jaguars’ turnovers. Harrison had six tackles and a quarterback hit.
· Left inside linebacker Reggie Ragland (Bob Jones) of the Chiefs made three tackles against the Bengals.
· Defensive end Damion Square of the Los Angeles Chargers made two tackles in a 20-19 victory over the Tennessee Titans.
· Inside linebacker Mark Barron (St. Paul’s) of the Los Angeles Rams made four tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, in a 39-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
· Linebacker Dont’a Hightower of the Patriots made five tackles and blocked a punt against the Bears. Hightower’s blocked punt was picked up by a teammate who returned it for a touchdown — the first for New England off a blocked punt since Oct. 6, 1996. The TD broke a 24-24 tie with 5:53 left in the third quarter.
· Left guard James Carpenter of the New York Jets in a 37-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
· Inside linebacker Reuben Foster (Auburn High) of the 49ers made two tackles against the Rams. Foster suffered a shoulder injury and left the game.
· Tight end O.J. Howard (Autauga Academy) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers caught five passes for 67 yards in a 26-23 overtime victory against the Cleveland Browns.
· Inside linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn High) and running back Derrick Henry of the Titans against the Chargers. Henry ran for 33 yards and one touchdown on 12 carries and caught two passes for 32 yards. Henry’s 1-yard run with 9:43 left in the third quarter produced his first touchdown of the 2018 season. Evans made one tackle. Henry did, too — after an interception.
Other former Alabama players seeing action on Sunday included:
· Ravens cornerback Cyrus Jones and outside linebacker Tim Williams against the Saints. Jones had an 8-yard punt return and made two special-teams tackles. Williams made two tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage.
· Lions defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson made four tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, against the Dolphins.
· Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick against the Lions. Drake ran for 72 yards on six carries — with 54 yards coming on a touchdown run — and caught four passes for 15 yards. Fitzpatrick made two tackles.
· Saints running back Mark Ingram gained 32 yards on 12 carries and caught two passes for 10 yards against the Ravens.
· Philadelphia Eagles guard Chance Warmack in a 21-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
· Redskins linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (Carver-Montgomery) against the Cowboys.
Ravens cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Marlon Humphrey (Hoover) and Dolphins safety Maurice Smith were designated as inactive.
The seventh week of the 2018 NFL season concludes when the New York Giants visit the Atlanta Falcons at 7:15 p.m. CDT Monday. ESPN will televise the game.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.