Bitter rivals, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys, faced off Sunday night, opening their seasons with a bang.
There were many storylines heading into the season opener:
“The Mike Shanahan Era” begins in Washington.
How will Donovan McNabb’s transition from the Philadelphia Eagles to Washington go?
Are the Cowboys a legitimate Super Bowl contender in 2010?
What chapter will be written in the history of this classic rivalry?
The game was by no means a “barn burner," but it did live up to the hype of the rivalry as it came right down to the wire.
Here are five things we learned from the matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys are many experts' pick to be the NFC representative in the Super Bowl this season. If that is going to happen, the Cowboys will need to sure up their offensive line.
In their matchup with the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys were called for 12 penalties for 91 yards. This number was their most penalties since Oct 11th of last season, in which they won an overtime game against Kansas City. In that contest the Cowboys committed 13 penalties for a total of 90 yards.
Most of the penalties Sunday night came from the Cowboys offensive line.
Coming into this season, the offensive line was one of the big question marks on the team's roster, and was one of the questions that had analysts and experts worried.
It definitely proved to be a problem.
The easiest individual to target on the line: Alex Barron.
Barron was brought over from St. Louis to help out the Cowboys' thin offensive line. He proved to do anything but help Sunday night.
The Cowboys may as well have installed a turn-style at the right tackle position of their line. Alex Barron had a horrendous display of offensive line play against the Washington Redskins. The worst display came on the last play of the game.
The Cowboys were down six points on the last play of the game. Tony Romo went back to pass, scrambled, nearly stumbled to the ground but stayed up, and continued to scramble. Romo finally found Roy Williams, wide open in the end zone, and delivered a 13-yard, game-winning touchdown pass. The stadium grew quiet and Cowboy teammates began celebration.
But there on the field lay a little yellow flag, which would have big implications to the ending of the game.
The call was a holding penalty on Alex Barron. As a result the game was over, and the Cowboys had lost.
This was what Redskins' defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth spent most of Sunday night doing: watching.
He didn't care for much for the view.
The saga continued between Albert Haynesworth and head coach Mike Shanahan. Haynesworth showed plenty of disapproval when being subbed in-and-out of the game so frequently. The minute Haynesworth reached the sidelines he showed his discontent, multiple times.
Haynesworth was also criticized for standing off all alone on the sidelines, not sitting with the rest of the defensive line as they looked over plays and discussed game strategy. There are some, however, who say when Haynesworth was seen alone, it was not the lineman discussing gameplan, but rather the corners.
Either way, the controversy with the “$100 million man” continues to be an issue.
Currently, the word is still that the Redskins will be shopping for a deal and seeking out a new home for their disgruntled investment.
One of the biggest head scratchers of the game came on the last play of the first half.
Just before halftime, the Cowboys found themselves on their own 30-yard line with 27 seconds remaining. Typically, in a close game with nothing to lose, it is common to see the team simply take a knee and head to halftime.
Coach Wade Phillips apparently had other ideas.
With four seconds left before halftime, Romo snapped the ball and threw a short dump off to Tashard Choice, who then was stripped of the ball by Redskins' cornerback Deangelo Hall. Hall got a friendly bounce, scooped up the ball, and did his best Deion Sanders imitation as he high-stepped into the endzone.
Hard to defend or justify Wade Phillip’s decision here; you have to take a knee.
This is a Redskins' team that lost all six of its division games last season, but started off 2010 with a bang defeating the hated Dallas Cowboys in wild fashion.
The NFC East is always considered to be one of the most competitive and evenly matched divisions in all of football.
The 2010-11 season shouldn't be the year that breaks the trend.
The Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles should all compete well this season, giving one another grief all year long.
Mike Shanahan always known for his running scheme during his days in Denver. Seemed to be able to plug any running back into the system and watch the yards pile up. Many figured it would be a "match made in heaven" with Shanahan reuniting with running back Clinton Portis, who Shanahan had coached in Denver during Portis' breakout years.
McNabb completed just 15 passes for 171 yards, but threw the ball 32 times! It will likely be a matter of time before McNabb his receivers get in sync and really begin to put up some points. With McNabb's cannon arm and Santana Moss' speed, look for a lot of deep strikes this season.
Another favorite target of McNabb's during his time in Philadelphia was his tight end. Now in Washington, McNabb will be able to continue to target the tight end with Pro Bowler Chris Cooley running routes.