Two weeks into the season, the Washington Redskins have fallen two games back in the NFC East while losing leads, then the game, each week.

Sunday’s 31-21 loss to the Dallas Cowboys followed the same blueprint as Week 1 in Philadelphia. The Redskins jumped out to a lead, then costly penalties and a defense unable to get off the field in clutch situations added up to a second straight loss to begin the season.

1. The defense was supposed to be the strength of this team…it hasn’t been

The talk all preseason was that this defense had a chance to be a Top 10 unit. So far, it hasn’t come close to that. Yes, there have been a number of injuries to key members of the defense, but that excuse isn’t going to fly all year.

Jonathan Allen, Caleb Brantley, Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau all being out with injuries is not ideal, but there are still playmakers out there that should be able to step up and make plays. The Cowboys racked up 474 yards of offense on Sunday and had drives of 97, 83 and 75 yards consecutively to begin the second half. The Redskins defense couldn’t get off the field when it had to.

Dak Prescott finished 26-of-30 for 269 yards and three touchdowns while looking like an MVP candidate.

The defense has given up more than 30 points in each of the first two games of the year.

2. Case Keenum has been fine

The quarterback definitely isn’t one of the main reasons this team is 0-2. Keenum has thrown for 601 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions in the first two weeks. He has missed some throws — he had Paul Richardson wide open on a 3rd and 3 in the second half and didn’t see him. He also missed Terry McLaurin on a deep ball last week, but has been solid in engineering drives, as the offense is averaging 24 points a game over the first two weeks.

3. The running game is nonexistent

We knew coming into the season there that the running game might struggle. All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams still isn’t around and the depth along the offensive line isn’t great. The team had only 28 yards on the ground a week ago and now Derrius Guice is lost for at least eight weeks. Enter last year’s team offensive MVP, Adrian Peterson and…same result. Peterson had only 25 yards on 10 carries with a touchdown. It doesn’t matter who’s back there right now, the running game is hurting the offense. In total, the Redskins had 47 yards on the ground. For the second straight week they failed to gain 50 yards.

4. Adrian Peterson scored a historic touchdown

Adrian Peterson didn’t have great success on the ground Sunday, but did find the end zone for the 107th time in his career. He passed Jim Brown for fifth on the all-time NFL rushing touchdowns list. It wasn’t lost on Peterson after the game.

“This one means a lot more than the other ones will when I pass them, because Jim Brown’s a guy that I looked up to,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him on several occasions. Just the look in his eyes when I’m talking to him, that alone is just motivating to me. It feels good to have passed him today, but it’s…bittersweet because we didn’t get this divisional win.”

5. Penalties continue to kill and extend drives

For the second straight week the Redskins continue to kill themselves with penalties. This Sunday, it happened on both sides of the ball. Whether it was holding penalties on offense that derailed drives, or holding penalties on defense that extended drives for the Cowboys, they always seem to come at inopportune times. After another six penalties for 44 yards on Sunday, the two week total is 18 penalties for 140 yards.

Oh, and FedEx Field was packed with Cowboys fans. Something you never thought you’d hear at a Redskins home game — a “Defense” chant…while the Redskins were on offense.

George Wallace

George Wallace is the WTOP sports director. He began at WTOP on Christmas Day of 2000.

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