As this season has spiraled out of control for the Washington Redskins, there’s not much left to look forward to other than the merciful end of the campaign next weekend.
However, this Sunday’s home finale does have a potential bright spot — the Redskins can help ruin the Dallas Cowboys’ year.
If nothing else, helping bump the Cowboys out of the playoff race might mitigate some of the drama that has surrounded this franchise over the past few weeks and provide a sign that the players haven’t packed it in.
“I think it’s easy for the team because this is Dallas week,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “If people don’t think we’re playing for anything, then they get a chance to see what we’re made of and how we react when a team has got a chance to be in the playoffs.”
The Cowboys appear to be in the full throes of their December swoon, and with Dallas’ porous defense providing opponents the opportunity to score at will, it presents a chance for Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to put together another strong outing.
“Our fans want nothing more than for us to beat Dallas,” Cousins said. “That game means so much to them, especially here at home. Dallas has a lot on the line. It is a major rivalry game. I’ve played in a lot of rivalry games before and it’s a great opportunity to … get a win and give our fan base something to feel good about.”
Last season, the Redskins beat the Cowboys 28-18 on Dec. 30 to clinch the NFC East. This season, Washington has yet to win a game in the division. A win Sunday, combined with a Philadelphia victory, would knock the Cowboys out of playoff contention.
There aren’t many benchmarks out there for a 3-11 team. But this scenario provides an opportunity for the Redskins to stick it to their biggest rival, a fact not lost on linebacker London Fletcher, who announced his probable retirement just in time for this affair.
“I just thought with this being the final home game, this being Dallas Cowboy week, [it was] an opportunity to go out in a bang,” Fletcher said. “Get the fans riled up, say thank you to them and beat the Cowboys. What better way to end it?”