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?
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.
Ten Spot Review: Redskins 27, Cowboys 6
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