Sunday's loss to the Cowboys came on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left, well after it seemed as though Washington finally had wrapped up a victory over its archrival.
It was just the latest in a string of defeats to Dallas (14 in the last 15 meetings) as well as the most recent one of the season where the Redskins felt as if they had victory just a play or two away.
"That's about as tough a (game) as I've gone through," coach Joe Gibbs said. "But these are tough lessons, and maybe the best part of this will be, as we learn the different lessons — finishing the game, not turning the ball over, our penalty situation — we're going to have a burning desire to win football games."
Sunday's game against Minnesota won't have much consequence for the Redskins, other than to re-establish some momentum for the offseason and seek out a better record than last year's under coach Steve Spurrier.
At 5-10, Washington must beat the Vikings in order to finish above the 5-11 record of 2003, a season that was defined by its turmoil and Spurrier phoning in his resignation from a golf course.
"We want to win," offensive lineman Chris Samuels said. "That's the bottom line. We want to go out and win this game, end on a positive note."
RB Clinton Portis can say goodbye to topping 1,500 rushing yards in each of his first three NFL seasons. He had been shooting to become the first back ever to do so, but on Monday he was ruled out of the finale against the Vikings because of a torn pectoral tendon.
Even before the bad evaluation came, Portis knew his odds of hitting the record weren't good. He rushed for just 32 yards against the Cowboys to settle at 1,315 yards.
"It would mean a lot, but it ain't the end of the world," Portis said. "Records are meant to be broken. If I don't do it, somebody's going to do it. But I think I had a golden opportunity. It just wasn't meant for me."
The injury occurred on Washington's first possession, when Portis converted a third-and-3 with a short rush. Portis rushed five more times before the pain forced him to exit.
"I tried," Portis said. "It was bad. I just hoped that some miracle would happen."
ARRINGTON OUT TOO
LB LaVar Arrington has been ruled out of the Vikings game with tendinitis in his surgically repaired right knee. That news came after a rough week of practice and only limited action Sunday at Dallas.
"My leg just didn't feel as good as it did last week," Arrington said glumly after the Cowboys game. "It was a struggle during the week of practice. It was a struggle today. It is what it is."
The Redskins largely didn't miss Arrington this year. The three-time Pro Bowl pick sat out 11 games, but Washington maintained one of the top few defenses in the league. The Redskins are No. 2 headed into the finale, 94 yards behind No. 1 Pittsburgh and 5 yards ahead of No. 3 Buffalo.
OTHER REDSKINS PERSONNEL NEWS