Coach Bill Parcells was spewing vitriol daily. Nobody was having fun.
So Singleton invited the defense to dinner. Not that he was cooking.
He and 26 of his teammates journeyed to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse on
Thursday for juicy steaks, a bill almost as big as the Marlins' payroll
and a bonding experience that was worth every penny.
"Defensively, we wanted to get together and not talk about that,"
safety Darren Woodson said. "I'm not saying we were going at each other,
but there has been tension amongst ourselves because we hadn't been
playing that well. Al wanted us to get away because it has been pressure-filled
Singleton looks like a genius after Sunday's 27-0 victory against the
Not only did the Cowboys' defense force five turnovers -- Dallas
picked up a sixth turnover on a punt -- but they recorded their first
shutout since blanking Miami in 1999. And they shut the Redskins out for
the first time in 32 years. And they were the first defense to
completely blank a Steve Spurrier-coached team since 1987, when he
It's a lot of "ands," especially for a defense that had allowed 76
points in its previous two outings.
"We might have to make (dinner) a ritual," Singleton said, pausing to
contemplate a suggestion that rookie cornerback Terence Newman and his
$10 million signing bonus grab this week's bill since Newman seemed to
benefit more than anybody from relaxing and having fun.
"Nah," Singleton finally decided. "We'll stick with the routine since
it went so well."
"Well" does not begin to do justice to the game Newman had Sunday.
His responsibility, Redskins 1,000-yard receiver Laveranues Coles,
did not have a catch. In fact, Newman caught as many Tim Hasselbeck
passes as any Redskins receiver, finishing with three interceptions. And
he slapped himself into the Cowboys' record book with his three-peat, a
feat achieved only three previous times, most recently by Dennis
Thurman in 1981.
Not even Deion Sanders has that on his resume.
"Is that right? I don't know what to say to that. They were
interceptions. That is my job," said Newman, a diehard Deion fan in his
younger days. "What is good is to have a shutout. It's always good to
have a shutout, but losing in the fashion that we had been, it's about
The Cowboys' defense had, in the words of defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, been getting their teeth kicked in. They did the kicking Sunday.
Cornerback Pete Hunter had an interception, in addition to two fumble
recoveries on special teams. Linebacker Dat Nguyen caused a fumble, and
Woodson recovered. Woodson also had an interception erased by a penalty.
And, of course, Newman broke an interception-less streak that dated to
his last pick, in Week 2. All of which, when added together, equaled a 0.0
quarterback rating for Hasselbeck and a goose egg for Spurrier Ball as
"You don't go through this league without having a couple of games
when you are not right," Parcells said when asked about his defense. "It
just got away from us a little last week."
Last week's 36-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles was, by far, the
most demoralizing and dangerous of the season.
It was the first time the Cowboys had lost two games in a row. It was
the first time their confidence was shaken; Parcells admitted as much.
It was also the first time they needed picking up. Or, as Singleton
discovered, taking out.
Steaks so rare they were practically bleeding and Parcells stories so
plentiful that players barely stopped laughing. That did what another "Let's
Go" speech or "Playoff" pep talk could not. It introduced the players
to whom they were playing for, whom they were sacrificing for, whom they
were getting yelled at by Parcells for.
"We didn't talk a whole lot of football. We just joked on each other,"
Singleton said. "You know how it is going to go when a guy walks in and
they are laughing at you. It's like they know you. It's more fun."
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
-- RB Troy Hambrick hasn't had the most consistent season, but he
turned in a performance for the ages Sunday, rushing for 189 yards, the
third-highest single-game total in Cowboys history. Hambrick's 33
carries also ranked third all-time. Hambrick not only had his longest
run of the season - 42 yards in the fourth quarter - but his 5.7-yard
average was his season high.
-- FB Richie Anderson is sharing playing time with Jamar Martin but is
still the Cowboys' most consistent offensive player. Against the
Redskins, Anderson led the team with five catches for 51 yards,
including a 21-yard touchdown on a nifty run with a short dump pass over
the middle. That was Anderson's third touchdown in three games, and
marks the sixth game this season the fullback has either tied or led the
team in receptions.
--WR Joey Galloway has now gone two consecutive games without a
reception, and has just 30 catches and two touchdowns this season. In
the last five weeks, Galloway has just six catches for 83 yards and one
-- P Tobin Gowin had, maybe, his best game this season. He averaged 41
yards on six punts.
His biggest, in distance and importance, came midway through the
second quarter. The Cowboys were pinned deep when Gowin nailed a 56-yard
punt, leaving the Redskins at their 20. Terence Newman then intercepted
a pass, leading to Quincy Carter's 3-yard touchdown run.
"It's not like I'm doing something different that I haven't done the
last few weeks," Gowin said. "I just went out and, like I said, I still
have some improvement to do. But it was nice to change field position
-- CB Pete Hunter had his best game of the season against the Redskins,
which is great considering the bad luck he's had. He had an uncanny
knack for being at the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong
"Something good had to happen," Hunter said. "I was terrible in the
slot at the beginning of the year, so my luck had to change."
It not only changed Sunday, it did a 180-degree turn.
Not only did Hunter have his first interception of the season, but he
also recovered two fumbles. Both came on special teams. He recovered a
fumbled punt by the Redskins' Chad Morton, and covered a fumble by the
Cowboys' Zuriel Smith.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Maybe we could put some mud at Texas Stadium. He
looked pretty good on that bad field. That's a good thing for a running
back to be able to do." -- Cowboys coach Bill Parcells on running back
Troy Hambrick's 189 yards rushing in the mud and ice at FedEx Field.
Defense Leads Quick Turnaround
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