Spunky Versus The Tuna

Sunday was the first meeting of Bill Parcells and his Dallas Cowboys and Steve Spurrier and the Washington Redskins. While the players on the field must execute to win games, the 21-14 Dallas win at Texas Stadium was engineered on the sidelines. Steve Spurrier, meet a real ball coach.

During the first quarter of this contest the Washington Redskins had 22 players on the field every time their defense lined up. The Dallas offense was as much a part of their success as Arrington, Smith and Russell.

The opening kick-off of 100-yards by Derek Ross was called back as was another Dallas touchdown. Add in three drops by Terry Glenn and this game should have been the Redskins hands down. On the second play from scrimmage Quincy Carter heaves a deep pass to Joey Galloway down the left side. The under thrown pass was intercepted by Matt Bowen.

Next series, same results. Hambrick gashes the Washington defense for twelve yards and Matt Bowen knocks the ball from his hands and Lavar Arrington recovers it.

Third series the Cowboys seemed to have settled down. Carter hits Terry Glenn over the middle for twelve yards. Glenn was more concerned with the safety than the ball and muffed the catch. But as he fell to the carpet he kept the ball alive as it bounced off a knee into the hands of Ifeanyi Ohalete. The runback put the Redskins in business at the Dallas six-yard line.

Two plays later Washington scores a touchdown on a pass to Laveranues Coles. A blocked extra point keeps the score at Washington 6 and Dallas 0. But the points were handed to the Redskins who couldn't muster any offense up to this point by the inept Dallas offense.

"That first part of the game," Parcells said in the post-game press conference, "what they say in New York, it was a nightmare."

The nightmare didn't end as Dallas drove to the Washington 35-yard line when Carter stepped up in the pocket and hit Terry Glenn on a deep in which ended up in the endzone. But the play was called back because of a motion penalty on tight end Jason Witten. The Cowboys were forced to punt.

"We just left so many yards on the field yesterday." Parcells said. "At least 150-yards in the passing game with dropped passes." But what was lost in this comedy-of-errors was the job done by a no-name Dallas defense that sent Washington to the clubhouse at halftime with a minus 17-yards in passing.

"Guys were gutting it out," LeRoi Glover said. "Do your job. Don't worry, just play." Parcells and Mike Zimmer devised a defensive game plan that pressured Patrick Ramsey, the Redskins quarterback, and blitzed them without mercy.

"We're struggling on offense," Steve Spurrier said. We called a bunch of maximum protection schemes, but I guess we got confused…" The confusion was why Spurrier elected to throw the ball when they were averaging five yards per carry. The Redskins ignored their success on the ground and forced the passing game, playing into the Cowboys game plan.

"The defense saved us. They held us together until the offense got together." Parcells commented in his Monday press conference. "We're not good enough to play average football and live. The defense played better than that yesterday."

Dallas was fortunate they played the Redskins because a good football team would have run them off the field in the first quarter.

But Parcells settled his troops down and they gashed the Redskins for 208-yards, led by Troy Hambrick's 100-yard day on 21 carries. Albeit with two turnovers lost to fumbles.

Carter posted 196-yards on 17 of 33 and one touchdown. But what may have been more important was his performance late in the game. On a third and 4 from the Washington 19-yard line, Dallas faced a situation that has confounded them over the last few years. Short yardage on third downs have ended more drives for this team. They were at a point where past performance suggested they would fail. But the play of Carter lifted the team.

Carter fakes a hand-off to Hambrick and naked bootlegged to the right. Lavar Arrington was blitzing and quickly in Quincy's face. He tossed a pass to Terry Glenn in the flat, which gained the first down. Glenn did a terrific job playing off his block by Antonio Bryant and dove into the endzone for a touchdown.

This was the maturation of Carter in understanding where the blitz was coming from and getting the ball to his receiver. Earlier in the game he naked bootlegged to the left and when the blitz was in his face he took two steps back to make the time for the receiver to uncover.

This was a poorly played game by both teams. Dallas had enough chances to win because the Redskins are undisciplined, and poorly coached. Parcells showed Spurrier that his philosophy of pass first was an error. Spurrier claimed he was NFL-ized earlier in the season by other teams when he didn't establish the run. When he got away from it again he got a large dose of what a real NFL coach will do when facing a team bullheaded enough to forego the basics of football.

The game wasn't played on the field as much as it was on the sidelines. In the end, Jerry Jones four million a year was better spent than Daniel Snyder's five million a year. Good job, Jerry.

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