You can reach Rich Tandler by email at email@example.com
Actually, it's better when it's served over Tuna:
Right now, still in the glow of spending three hours plus of being the Dallas Cowboys' daddy, it is a great win. And there is not a chance it will ever be anything less than that. It was the Cowboys, it was Parcells, it was for playoff life, it was at FedEx. That will never change.
As is almost always the case, however, we will need some perspective to see just how this one stacks up in Redskins history against other big regular-season games. Should the Redskins go to the playoffs, the game's importance will be magnified. If they advance, it will get bigger. If the Redskins use a playoff run this year as a springboard to elite status in the NFL, it will become one of those legendary games that everyone remembers and something like a quarter of a million people will eventually swear they saw in person.
One of the best parts of a game like this one is reading the morning papers and the glowing coverage of the local writers. Truth be told, many of them are lifelong Redskins fans (I won't name names). But, to a man they would rather cover a winning team than a losing one and they'd rather be covering playoff games than starting to write about offseason moves while the college bowl season is barely underway.
What can be more fun, though, is to read the perspective from the other side. Nobody can quite kick the Dallas Cowboys when they are down than the writers and columnists who know them the best. Here are a couple of fun ones I came across. First, from Jim Reeves of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:
Considering what was at stake, it has to be the most devastating Cowboys' defeat of the Parcells' era. After he spent last week telling us how much he liked these players, they flat quit on him Sunday.
They soiled their britches.
It is fair to wonder whether such a dismal failure in such a huge game will eventually influence Parcells' decision to keep coaching beyond this season.
After what we saw Sunday, [the playoffs] might be little more than a pipe dream. A Michael Irvin under-the-car-seat pipe dream.
The offensive line should have swapped uniforms with the Redskins cheerleaders. When Torrin Tucker and company weren't being flagged for false starts and holding, they were waving pompoms at the Redskins' defenders as they rushed by
And from Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:
Parcells likes his team less today, because the Cowboys quit on him in a rivalry showdown. When Terry Glenn wasn't pulling back on a crossing pattern (who wants to get hit?), then Terence Newman was ducking on a tackle that resulted in yet another Redskins touchdown (who wants to hit?).
The punter shanked, the field-goal kicker missed and nearly everyone on the offensive line jumped once. Asked about the false starts afterward, Parcells shrugged and said, "Hey, it's always the same guys."
Centers, guards, tackles. Those same guys.
Parcells glared so much at the offenders that there was concern his face would freeze that way. And then there was the reigning NFC offensive player of the week: Had Drew Bledsoe held the ball a little longer, Fox would have had to cut away for commercial breaks.
That "thump-thump" you just heard was the sound of Cowboys getting thrown under the bus.
Uh, excuse me guys, but Joe Gibbs won a Super Bowl with a ground-based offense before Bill Parcells ever became an NFL coach. It was Gibbs being "Gibbs-like".
And then on the Sports Center following the Sunday night game, the two anchors brought it to an even lower level. As the shot of the Redskins' #53 intercepting a pass and returning it to set up a touchdown filled the screen, the announcer said, "And then Marcus Williams picks off Bledsoe. . ."
It's not as though Marcus Washington is Warrick Holdman or another anonymous player. He went to the Pro Bowl last year and he's probably going back again. This past week he was named the Redskins Player of the Year by the Quarterback Club. If you pay any attention at all to the Redskins, you know who he is.
But the "World Wide Leader" evidently doesn't pay much attention to them. After showing the highlights and Bill Parcells' comments they showed the Wild Card standings with the Redskins "out of nowhere" leading for the second spot.
No, they didn't come out of nowhere. They have been steadily rising over the past three weeks. They do have a Hall of Fame coach whose teams rallied to playoffs spots in the past. They have a few pretty good football players. If you want to remain the "World Wide Leader" you might want to start paying some attention.
The Playoff Picture
One route to the playoffs is simple--win and in. If the Redskins win their remaining two games against the Giants and Eagles, they are in the playoffs. Should New York win its final game of the season against the Raiders in Oakland, the Redskins would be a Wild Card. If the Giants lose, they will be the NFC East champs.
There is still the outside possibility of the Redskins getting a first-round bye (as first talked about here last week) if they win the division. If the Panthers (Dallas, at Atlanta) and Bears (at Green Bay, at Minnestoa) lose out but still manage to win their divisions at 10-6 Redskins division winner would be the #2 seed behind Seattle and they would be off the first week of the playoffs. The would also get the second seed if the Bucs and Bears win their divisions at 10-6. The Redskins' conference record, which would be 10-2, would be the key tiebreaker.
It's also possible that the Redskins could split their next two games--it wouldn't matter which one the won and which one they lost--and still get in at 9-7. It would just take Dallas (at Carolina, St. Louis) and Atlanta (at Tampa Bay, Carolina) and Minnesota (at Baltimore, Chicago) to lose one more game.
That playoff berth could be like the present that is kind of behind the Christmas tree and you don't find it until that night. The Redskins, Cowboys, and Falcons all play on Saturday and, if things set up right, the Redskins could clinch on Christmas night if the Ravens beat the Vikings.