1. What is the Redskins' mindset entering the game? We said it wasn't bad, that they were still together and that this wasn't the issue. I think that was evident yesterday. When a team on a three-game losing streak faces adversity yet still rallies to win, it says a lot about the mindset. A players meeting might have helped, but we doubt it. We don't put a lot of stock into those because you still have to prepare a certain way. And the players did. What amazes us is how much a leader Troy Vincent has become in two weeks. That doesn't speak well about the leadership that was already on the team, but, on the other hand, it speaks volumes about Vincent.
2. How will Moss' absence impact the Redskins? Obviously, it affected them greatly but the other wideouts were able to make big plays that normally went to Moss. So Mark Brunell was forced to find other wideouts. In many ways this will help as he was forced to be able to trust other wideouts. He clearly did not trust Brandon Lloyd before Sunday. We liked that Washington still attacked the middle of the field, which was open. And we loved how James Thrash, every time he's used, seems to help.
3. Is this the game Lloyd breaks out? We said he would still be limited because of his non-physical nature. And he only finished with two catches. But he also had a 37-yarder wiped out by a holding penalty and drew a 48-yard pass interference penalty so he was effective. And he threw an excellent block on Clinton Portis' touchdown run. It essentially took out two defenders as a safety taking a bad angle got roadblocked too.
4. Will the healthy defenders make a difference? We said they would have to. Cornelius Griffin had eight tackles and a sack. He makes a big difference. Shawn Springs was OK, but was toasted a couple times albeit against talented receivers. Still, their returns enabled others to return to more suitable roles. Kenny Wright even covered tight end Jason Witten on one occasion, knocking a pass away because of his quickness. What we didn't expect was Vincent starting ahead of Adam Archuleta, a move we loudly applaud. Archuleta was more effective in a limited role because he was used in the box where his quickness was a help. But it's amazing how bad the Redskins whiffed in signing him. Vincent is OK, but his communication and leadership in the secondary makes a big difference and that's something Archuleta could not provide. We also were surprised that Kedric Golston started ahead of Joe Salave'a. He was effective. Considering how often Salave'a gets hurt, it's good to have a young guy in there.
5. What area will be helped most by their return? Obviously, everything we said. Well, duh. The pass defense still had its problems, especially on third and long. And if not for a Terrell Owens dropped pass deep, the Redskins would not have won. The run defense was OK, though Marion Barber hurt them in the second half. Julius Jones, though, was mostly handled. The pass rush was OK, but what really hurt was Tony Romo's mobility. Several times he got out of the pocket and made plays.
6. Is Tony Romo a Hall of Famer? Obviously he entered as still unproven. Heck, he'd only made one start. But it's clear that Bill Parcells made the right decision. And if not for a couple drops he would have led Dallas to a second straight road win. Or if the tight end had not fallen by the Redskins sideline on the 'Boys last drive. Or if the field goal had not been blocked. In other words, the kid was good and will help Dallas tremendously down the stretch. It helps that he had been in this system for three-plus years before getting this chance. We point that out for the obvious reason: Jason Campbell has not been in this offense for even one year. Then again, Campbell was a first-round pick and Romo an undrafted free agent. And that said, Mark Brunell was not an issue yesterday.
7. What matchups should we pay attention to offensively? Casey Rabach vs. Jason Ferguson in the middle. And Rabach did a good enough job against hm that the Redskins were OK in the middle. We didn't think Washington could rely solely on outside runs and indeed the Redskins limited their toss sweep. They hit the edges, but mostly on quick runs. The tackles handled the ends farely well and most of the pressure was applied by linebackers. But Dallas' front manhandled them at the goal line.
8. What matchups should we pay attention to defensively? Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers against Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens. Glenn did not cause his usual damage against the Redskins. Owens scored, but after his little nap in the end zone, he went to sleep and dropped one sure touchdown pass and another pass that would have gained a first down. Just more proof that there are indeed football gods.
9. Will we see Jason Campbell? We didn't think so, despite moronic rumors to the contrary. We say moronic because those saying Campbell would start or play had nothing but hunches to base it on. But once Joe Gibbs says publicly what's going on, things don't change. And they didn't. Nor will they until the playoffs are out of reach.
10. Will the Redskins win? We said yes, 20-17. So we're finally feeling a little smart today. We didn't think Romo would lead the 'Boys to another road win. But, again, the loss wasn't his fault. I also thought the Redskins had another big game or two in them and, coming off a bye, if they couldn't win this game they'd have zero hope for a turnaround obviously. We still don't think they're headed for some unbelievable finish, but a respectable one is now very possible.