1. Are the players intense about this rivalry?
We thought some players were and some treated it like just another game. But they didn't play that way. The Redskins played with passion and intensity. Maybe it wasn't the rivalry as much as it was facing a team everyone said would roll over them. We also said the rivalry would grow in national stature again if the Redskins could pull the upset. They did. If both teams keep winning, watch the hype for the rematch.
2. Is Dallas really 11 points better than the Redskins?
Actually, the question turned into should they be 11-point favorites. We thought it was understandable given what happened to the Redskins at the Giants and what Dallas had done to other teams. But we also knew the Redskins had fared well in Dallas as double-digit dogs. It turns out that, no, the line was a bit off. The Redskins match up well with Dallas. I don't say that for your benefit as much as mine so I can keep it in mind for the second meeting.
3. Where is Dallas better defensively?
We thought they were better at corner with the addition of Adam Jones. And Zach Thomas was sound in the middle. Neither were the reason for the Dallas defeat. But on to the next question.
4. Where can they be exploited?
We thought down the middle of the field against the safeties. We thought the Redskins could hurt Dallas deep if Jason Campbell had time. Yep, he did. Santana Moss had eight catches for 145 yards and stuck a few daggers into the Cowboys. Their secondary needs more balance.
5. What must Washington do offensively?
Possess the ball was the No. 1 thing, but we did not mean just running. The Redskins did this by throwing a lot of short, quick passes. The running game was not a big factor until late in the game; the points, and the lead, came via the passing game. But that's what the West Coast is designed to do. We thought they needed to run right more and they did late; they hadn't done that with Stephon Heyer in the game but with Jon Jansen they could. Hmmm. We also thought they needed to run misdirection plays, end arounds and rollouts. They did those, too. Twice, Antwaan Randle El went in motion to the backfield as if setting up an end around, but the run went to the area he vacated with success. Lastly, they had to take chances. With Jim Zorn as coach, that will never be a problem; it wasn't yesterday. Moss really hurt Dallas with some deep catches.
6. The biggest matchup offensively?
We thought it was OLB DeMarcus Ware vs. LT Chris Samuels. Samuels did not have his best game allowing several pressures, but it ended up not hurting Washington or Campbell. Ware, though, was better in the passing game. The Redskins chipped him a couple times and that helped, sometimes.
7. Can they stop Tony Romo?
We thought it would be hard, but not impossible. Romo t hrew for a lot of yards, but it's not as if he controlled the game. Many times the entire passing game seemed frustrated for Dallas. So, lots of yards, but not enough production. Advantage, Washington. The Redskins played physical with Terrell Owens, doubled Jason Witten, used corners on Witten at times and more often than not kept seven in coverage. Shawn Springs was invaluable until exiting in the second half with a calf injury. But his effort on Owens set a major tone for the D.
8. What is most scary about this offense?
The balance scares teams. We thought, as did everyone, that Washington had to make Dallas one-dimensional. The Redskins did just that. The linebackers were awesome with their run fits; you never saw big holes for Marion Barber. He runs hard, but he is not the battering ram that Brandon Jacobs can be. The line did a very nice job in this area as well.
9. Will they miss Jason Taylor?
We thought they would on third downs, but not on run downs. That would be about right. Demetric Evans appeared to be solid against the run; didn't see him getting moved out. Chris Wilson did very little as an edge rusher, so that's where Taylor was missed. The Redskins didn't apply a lot of pressure, but their coverage more than compensated.
10. Will they win?
We said they would pull the biggest upset of the season and win by two. Um, that is what we said, isn't it? Uh, no. We thought Dallas would pressure Campbell into at least one mistake. We also thought the Redskins would have to play unbelievably well to win. Well, guess what. One thing that can't be underscored is how well this team likes playing together. We saw that in the preseason, but that was overshadowed by a number of questions about a new coach and growing quarterback. Both of them are answering many of those questions with exclamation marks. I'm sure no one minds that the pick was wrong.
John Keim covers the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and is a contributing editor for Warpathinsiders.com. He has covered the team since 1994. Some of his other stories can be found at dcexaminer.com
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