Ten Spot Review: Redskins 27, Cowboys 6

John Keim reviews the ten spot and how he did at predicting what would happen against the Cowboys.

1. We asked: Is this the biggest Redskins-Cowboys game since the 1983 NFC Championship?

We thought it was, but the atmosphere was a bit more sterile than I expected. The parking lots were filled three hours before the game, but the rain kept many fans from heading inside until just before kickoff. I was expecting the We Want Dallas chants before the game, but it never really materialized. But when they started pulling away it was electric.

2. We asked: What is the Redskins' mindset?

I thought they were as focused as I've ever seen them in my 13 years or so of covering the team. They played that way, not letting up when they got the lead or when Dallas subbed in players. The Redskins stayed aggressive offensively – witness the 42-yard strike to Santana Moss. And the nice thing about their mindset, it's a good way to have playoff success.

3. We asked: Is it a big deal who Dallas plays?

Yes, it was. But I'm not sure it would have mattered. Dallas showed little and played as if it were an exhibition game after a while. Still, I would have picked Washington to win regardless. The Redskins are not just a team on a roll, they're a good team.

4. We asked: Can Dallas still win?

It would have had to have happened because of the weird things that often happen in this series. But Dallas' offense offered nothing competitive without T.O. and its running game really sputtered. That should be a concern for a rematch. The Cowboys might have been better off trying to win that game and keep this team from the postseason.

5. We asked: Who else worries you on Dallas' offense?

They still have talent, but Patrick Crayton had just two catches and Jason Witten only had two. Marion Barber and Julius Jones led a Dallas rushing attack that produced …. One yard! In the end, nobody on Dallas' offense, including the quarterback, did anything worth a darn.

6. We asked: Why have the Redskins safeties improved since that game?

Their communication and comfort levels have increased dramatically. Reed Doughty made a few nice plays, batting away one pass to Witten in the end zone. LaRon Landry and Doughty combined for 10 tackles and were solid in run support. Landry nearly was burned when he got out of position on one pass play, but the ball was dropped or a touchdown might have followed.

7. We asked: What about Dallas' defense?

The Cowboys were playing minus corner Terence Newman, a big loss. However, the defense actually played with more emotion and energy than its offense. Had Dallas' offense done anything early, it would have been an interesting game. But the Redskins could not run on Dallas in the first meeting and managed 137 yards in this game. The Cowboys did generate some pass rush early and Todd Collins was sacked three times and they forced two fumbles. But the Redskins still kept them off-balance with their play calls.

8. We asked: How long can Todd Collins act like Joe Montana?

Listen, nobody knows. But maybe Collins is just a good player. After all, he's finished with passer ratings over 104 in three of his four outings. Collins does little things such as calling for shifts in formations late on the play clock, with, say eight seconds left. There's no way that would work with a younger player such as Jason Campbell. But it forces the defense to reveal more than it wants to. That veteran presence is paying huge dividends.

9. We asked: Can Sean Taylor's memory still serve as motivation?

Absolutely. And it will continue to serve them. The players all noted the margin of victory (21) and the picture with the inscription of wanting Dallas. Chris Samuels, among others, cried when he thought about the margin of victory and how it was Sean's number. So, yes, Taylor still inspires them. However, good quarterback play is as much a factor in their success as anything.

10. We asked: Who will win?

This was as much a lock as any game I've ever picked. I thought they'd win 30-20. Not just because Dallas was not at full strength – Washington hasn't been in a long time, either. But because the Redskins just have that look and feel. My warning to Seattle: watch out. The look hasn't faded.


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