Redskins-Cowboys: Washington Makes a Statement with 26-24 Victory
Who’s going to stop Terrell Owens, Marion Barber, and Jason Witten? Even if the Redskins control them for a little while, there is no way they can score enough to keep up with the high-flying Cowboys. Right?
Under rookie Head Coach Jim Zorn, the Washington Redskins have shown that they are anything but a team of the past, as they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 26-24. They have also shown that you had better have deep pockets if you choose to bet against them.
This squad is fearless and relentless on both sides of the ball. While the defense has been aggressive for years under former coordinator Gregg Williams and assistant Greg Blache (now the defensive coordinator), the offense has not been a go-getter type in over a decade, perhaps longer. Now it’s a toss-up as to which side of the ball is more aggressive.
Zorn has put trust in the hands of quarterback Jason Campbell, and rightfully so.
Through the first four games of the regular season, the Washington Redskins stand alone as the team that has not turned the ball over.
Campbell has elected to take sacks when needed, thrown the ball away other times, or checked off for a small two-yard pass rather than force the ball into tight spots. The result? At times, there have been punts, but there have been no costly, momentum-killing turnovers.
By not turning the ball over, the Redskins have put their aggressive defense in a position to be able to attack rather than be on their heels.
Even without superstar defensive end Jason Taylor, Washington was able to put enough pressure on Tony Romo to keep him from getting comfortable in the pocket. Had he been able to do so, he likely would have shredded the secondary the way he has in the past.
Going back to the offense, anyone who doubts that Clinton Portis is an elite back in the NFL needs to check the game tape. His hard-style running, along with devastating blocks, makes him one of the best all-around backs in the league. Portis carried the ball 21 times for 121 yards against a very good Dallas defense.
Santana Moss is on his way to a career year after another explosive performance, catching eight passes for 145 yards. He has caught seven or more passes in each of his last three games, and the victory in Dallas marked the first time all season that he was held without a touchdown.
The duo from Miami University (Portis and Moss) have established themselves as the biggest threats on an offense that has scored 29, 24, and 26 points in their past three games.
The balanced attack of the Redskins' offense allowed them to sustain long drives, in which the Cowboys were genuinely guessing whether to play the pass or the run. Twice, inside the five-yard line, the Redskins got aggressive and threw for touchdowns rather than make the conventional choice of running. The two touchdowns capped 79 and 51-yard drives.
How efficient was the Washington offense? They scored on six of their last eight possessions. (Their last possession was a kneel down to run out the clock.) The Redskins held the ball for over 38 minutes, keeping the Cowboys' offense -- and the crowd -- out of the game.
Defensively, the secondary and linebacking corps made their mistakes but played well enough to confine Terrell Owens to an average game (seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown). Marion Barber was stuffed for 26 yards on eight carries, a 3.3 yards per carry average.
To put that in perspective, it was his worst game since 2006.
This game might have meant more for the Redskins than for the Cowboys, but if it has done anything other than make headlines, it’s the fact that the Redskins have now been legitimized in the eyes of many on the national stage, including me.
The Redskins now take their show on the road to a hostile Philadelphia. Whether they win or lose that game, one thing is clear: The Washington Redskins are the real deal, folks. This is a team that doesn’t just think that they can win; they know it.
Washington now has just as good a chance as any to win the toughest division in football. Who would have thought?
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