Behind Enemy Lines: Darren Woodson

The 12-year Dallas safety has seen it all with the Cowboys, going from Super Bowl years to rebuilding and now back to playoff contention.

Q: What do you think has happened the last couple weeks?

A: As a team, we've turned the ball over too many times. And defensively, we haven't done a great job stopping the run. I think Ricky Williams had a good day against us. And then we played pretty well in the first half against the Eagles, but in the second half, we didn't tackle as well. That's what's really hurt us defensively: We haven't tackled well

Q: Is there a different feeling down there now than 3-4 weeks ago?

A: When you're struggling and not winning, there's more of a sense of urgency. We're trying to figure out what's wrong, fix it, and get on to the next game. But I think that's any team. When you're not playing well and you go through a little stretch where you're struggling, you try to find ways to pick yourself up. I'm not going to say there's a lot of concern about this team and the direction we're headed in, but there's some concern about the way we're playing and how we're going to fix these things.

Q: Do you still feel like you control your own destiny?

A: We do. This game's going to be a tough game. We're going back to Washington. These two teams know each other well. They're probably champing at the bit to get back at us. They'd love to spoil this whole deal. We have to go out there and take care of business. They've struggled most of the season, but they've played well the last few weeks. I think they're playing a lot better than they've played all season.

Q: Are you a victim of your own success early in the season?

A: I've been here for 12 years, and I've been to the Super Bowl three times. There were times in each of those seasons we went to the Super Bowl ... you're going to go through stretches where you're just not playing well. I think we're going through that right now. We just have to figure out how to get a win under our belt and get back on that roll. It happens to all the teams out there. It's just our time right now.

Q: Is this where you guys have got to make your move.

A: We've got to play well this week. We've got a three-game season. This is, to this point, the biggest game of our season. We've got to go out to Washington to play as hard as we possibly can and get a win. ... It's going to be a tough game. I respect the you-know-what out of those guys. They've struggled most of the season, but they went out to New York last week and beat a New York team away on a cold day. They haven't given up on their season. There's a lot of respect here from these guys toward them.

Q: What were you able to do to shut down the Redskins last time?

A: They've shored up a lot of things as far as their pass protection. Last time, we had a lot of blitzes and they pretty much didn't handle them as well as they probably wanted. Now, they're protecting the quarterback a lot better. We brought a lot of pressure and Ramsey just couldn't find the guy he wanted.

Q: Worried that people might say your 5-1 start was a fluke?

A: There's no such thing as a fluke in the NFL. You win because things go your way and you wanted it more than the other team. In the NFL now, the talent level is so equal, the team that makes the most plays is going to win games. And that's what we did during the five-game winning streak. I'd never say it was a fluke. We earned those wins. We earned a good win against Carolina a couple weeks ago and we were on top of the world. We came back and we were flat against Miami. It's just one of those things. We've got eight wins. We've outplayed a lot of teams this season.

Q: How's Parcells been this week?

A: Ew ... another question.

Q: Does his sour mood rub off on you guys?

A: Yeah, it makes for a loooong week. You can't wait until they blow that whistle for the Washington game. That's the kind of week this is. The practices are going to be tough, a lot of yelling, a lot of screaming, nothing's going to be right no matter what it is. You just can't wait for Sunday to get that bad taste out of your mouth. He's going to give us a hard time regardless. He's a sore loser, and I think that's what he wants us all to be, sore losers. He's doing a good job of that.

Q: Anyone who makes losing miserable, it sort of motivates you to win.

A: It does. Because you don't want to get back to that miserable feeling. The thing I've learned about this league is the lows outweigh the highs considerably. If you win a game, it's great. If you lose a game, it's like you've never won a game in your life. He makes you feel like that, like it's the end of the world. If you don't come back this week and play well, it's all over. That's our feeling.

Q: Do you have to prepare differently for Hasselbeck than Ramsey?

A: No, not really. I think Hasselbeck moves around better. I think he steps up in the pocket a little bit better than Ramsey. But Ramsey, to me, you saw this guys getting better and better. He struggled a bit with the pressure, but when they shored up some things on the front line, he started to get a lot better. I think he's the future over there. Hasselbeck, he's gritty. I really like this guy. I really respect this kid. Our game, he came in and threw one pass for a completion. Then he goes into the Miami game and engineers these drives against a very good defense. He's just a gritty guy. It seems like the offensive guys really follow his lead. I really like this kid, I really do.

Q: Is this still thought of as rivalry week in Dallas?

A: Oh yeah. Every NFC game is a rivalry to us. Last week was the biggest game ever. This week's the same thing. They don't like us. They want to spoil what we've got going on this season. And we have to go out and try to get a win in a hostile environment. It's a rivalry. We still don't like them. I respect a lot of those guys to death, but on the field, it's about winning.

Q: Is home-field advantage different for the Redskins at FedEx than it was at RFK?

A: RFK, for me coming in as a young guy, it was unbelieveable. The fans were on top of you. That was football. That was football at it's best there. That was by far, to me, the best stadium to play in of any stadium I've been in. The fans were on top of you. It was like you were in their backyard and you had to pull out a win. The Washington fans, I've always respected them. And the Philly fans. They're rowdy and they'll get after you. But at the same time, they respect the game of football.

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