It has taken only three games for the Washington Redskins' season of high hopes to be shattered into dozens of tiny pieces.
On what was supposed to be a glorious evening for them, with former coach Joe Gibbs and a record crowd on hand at FedEx Field, the Redskins were left searching for answers after losing to the previously winless Dallas Cowboys, 27-21, last night.
Stephen Davis glides into the end zone but the Cowboys defeated the Redskins, 27-21, to drop Washington's record to 1-2.
(Brendan McDermid - Reuters)
The Redskins lost their second straight game to fall to 1-2 and were booed regularly by a gathering of 84,431. After Coach Norv Turner was finished addressing reporters, his regular postgame meeting with owner Daniel M. Snyder lasted late into the night.
In a somber locker room, Redskins guard Tre Johnson said: "I'm disappointed. This is what happens if you don't do what you're supposed to do."
The Redskins remained patient last week even as their more frenzied followers called for quarterback Brad Johnson to be benched in favor of high-priced backup Jeff George, or for Turner to be dismissed. Remaining patient will be far more difficult for the Redskins this week, particularly on the Johnson-George issue. The offense struggled again, and the lack of big plays in the passing game once more was a major reason.
"You look at every possibility when you're struggling," Turner said. "It's easy to point at the quarterback when you're struggling on offense. It's 11 guys out there."
Johnson said he wasn't concerned about his job security, and added: "I feel like I'm making good throws. They had some great coverages, and we had to throw some check-downs to the backs. That was all that was there. . . . We expected to be playing better, and we expected to have a better record."
The Cowboys (1-2) were reeling and were without injured quarterback Troy Aikman. They nevertheless extended their winning streak over the Redskins to six games in the 11th matchup between these clubs on Monday night. The Redskins will face the 3-0 New York Giants at Giants Stadium on Sunday, and the schedule is brutal in October.
The Redskins scored first, turning a long punt return by Champ Bailey on a reverse into a seven-yard touchdown run by tailback Stephen Davis on a fourth-down play. But the Cowboys led 14-7 at halftime and 17-7 in the third quarter. Quarterback Randall Cunningham teamed with running back Chris Warren for a 76-yard scoring pass, and tailback Emmitt Smith provided a three-yard touchdown run on a fourth-down play in the second quarter.
The Redskins closed to 17-14 on Davis's one-yard touchdown plunge late in the third quarter, but the Cowboys regrouped and got a 16-yard scoring pass from Cunningham to tight end Jackie Harris with just over nine minutes to play.
The Redskins didn't wilt. They narrowed the gap to 24-21 on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to tight end Mike Sellers with 5 minutes 34 seconds left. The defense held, and the Redskins got the ball back at their 24-yard line with 4:33 remaining. They converted a fourth-and-two play, but Johnson soon overthrew tight end Stephen Alexander, and the ball was intercepted by safety Izell Reese with just over two minutes to play.
Still, the defense permitted only a 38-yard field goal by Tim Seder, and the Redskins had one last chance. But Johnson was sacked as time expired, and the fans exited in the foulest of moods.
"We made mental errors," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "It's unacceptable. I don't think any of us played particularly well. We have to get better. That's the bottom line."
The Redskins lost fullback Larry Centers to a hyperextended left elbow, and one second-half drive was ruined by a personal foul on Andy Heck the backup left tackle who wasn't even in the game when he shoved a Cowboys player on the sideline following a play.