Studs and Duds
Offensive player of the game: Receivers Rod Gardner and Derrius Thompson. They combined for 12 catches for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Gardner has developed into a fine player, a solid No. 2 (still doesn't scare defenses enough to be a No. 1) and Thompson is finally getting downfield again after weeks of only grabbing receiver screens. Offensive dud: Running back Stephen Davis. He managed just 51 yards on 20 carries. The Cowboys focused on stopping him and it worked. The coaching staff didn't help him out by having him run too wide. That said, Davis needed to pick up that fourth and one--there was a hole--and he failed. Defensive player of the game: Corner Champ Bailey. Whenever he was on Joey Galloway, he shut him down. See what happened when he wasn't on him? Bailey is playing at a Pro Bowl level and is a dynamic punt returner--he'll break one before the season ends. Defensive dud: Linebacker LaVar Arrington. Where was he? Made only one play that was noticed, a deflection of a pass right at him. But he wasn't alone as many defenders played poorly, including corner Fred Smoot. Just hasn't lived up to his own preseason hype. Granted, he was injured, but he also played the way he has all season. Curious coaching move: Steve Spurrier kept calling for off-tackle and runs around end. Why? The Cowboys front seven have excellent speed--run at them. When you run sideways, it plays into their greatest strength. Curious coaching move, part II: Facing third and one at their own 36 midway through the fourth quarter, the Redskins called for a fake reverse and pass. It resulted in an 11-yard sack and another missed opportunity. Curious coverage: Why was safety Andre Lott on receiver Joey Galloway on the deciding touchdown? The Redskins were in Cover 3--with Fred Smoot among those covering deep. Somehow, that left Lott locked on Galloway, a colossal mismatch. As one Redskins defender told me later, ''No [bleeping] safety can't stay with him.'' Play of the game: Dallas safety Roy Williams picked off a bobbled pass at the Redskins' five and returned it for a touchdown, cutting Washington's lead to 20-17. How much do people anticipate disaster in this so-called rivalry? Before the play, one longtime Redskins beat writer said, ''This is the play where they screw up the game.'' Going down: If linebacker Jeremiah Trotter's season is indeed over--coach Steve Spurrier said he might need surgery--then his first season ends as a major disappointment. He's a good linebacker, but he certainly didn't make the impact hoped for. Key stats: Washington was three of 12 on third downs. . . Emmitt Smith averaged 6.3 yards per carry--he entered with a 3.9 yards per carry average. And he did it behind a banged-up, young makeshift line. . . . Stephen Davis averaged 2.6 yards per carry. . . The Redskins sacked Chad Hutchinson four times on his first 12 pass attempts, but didn't get any on his last 13.
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