The Washington Redskins could not live with their hard-earned prosperity. Just when they had reassembled their season, the Dallas Cowboys showed up again. The Redskins were listless early and could not recover late, and lost to the Cowboys, 20-14, yesterday before a stadium-record 85,112 at FedEx Field.
The Redskins (5-6) had their five-game winning streak ended and lost to the Cowboys (3-8) for a ninth straight time. They last beat Dallas on Oct. 13, 1997. The Cowboys are 2-0 against the Redskins this season and 1-8 against the rest of the NFL. Over the past two seasons, they are 4-0 against the Redskins and 4-19 against the rest of the league.
Stephen Davis is stopped by a host of Cowboys during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-14 loss to the Cowboys. Davis had 53 yards on 17 carries for the Redskins.
(John McDonnell - The Washington Post)
_____The Season in Photos_____
Take a look back at Washington's 8-8 year, Marty Schottenheimer's first and last season with the Redskins.
"They must have wanted it more than us because they're definitely not a better football team than us," said Redskins quarterback Tony Banks, who was released by the Cowboys during training camp.
The Redskins' bid to become the first team in NFL history to recover from an 0-5 start to reach the playoffs was severely damaged. They fell two games behind the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, into a second-place tie with the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals. They're a game off the pace in the scramble for the final wild-card playoff berth in the NFC.
"After winning five in a row, losing to anybody hurts," said Redskins Coach Marty Schottenheimer, whose team lost for the first time since a 9-7 defeat at Dallas on Oct. 15. "It doesn't matter who it is . . . It's just disappointing."
Said linebacker LaVar Arrington: "It's a setback. We know we should have won that game . . . I don't think there was any confidence level out of the ordinary. I don't know what it is, but we have to get it fixed because I can't take any more of this. I hate Dallas. I have to wait all the way till next year to get another shot at Dallas."
Banks was limping on a sore ankle after the game, and tight end Stephen Alexander suffered a fractured fibula that could end his frustrating season. But mostly, the Redskins' pride was wounded. The Cowboys used a straightforward approach, amassing 215 rushing yards. Tailback Emmitt Smith ran for 102 yards on 25 carries. Fullback Troy Hambrick added 47 yards on 10 carries and reserve running back Michael Wiley had 61 yards on three carries -- including a 46-yard run late in the third quarter that set up a go-ahead field goal.
"It comes down to the same things you talk about every week," said Cowboys Coach Dave Campo, whose team limited tailback Stephen Davis to 53 rushing yards on 17 carries. "We stopped the run. They didn't."
The Redskins were fortunate to trail only 7-0 after Dallas ran for 122 yards and had the ball for almost 20 1/2 minutes in the first half. Smith provided a five-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
The Redskins got even in the third quarter on Banks's one-yard touchdown dash. But the Cowboys moved ahead for good on place kicker Jon Hilbert's 38-yard field goal just over a minute into the fourth quarter. Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey was victimized for a 64-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Quincy Carter -- the first of his NFL career -- to wide receiver Raghib Ismail, and Banks threw an interception to set up another field goal that upped the Cowboys' lead to 20-7.
A 15-yard touchdown pass from Banks to wideout Rod Gardner in the final minute got the Redskins within six points. It also created some what-ifs to ponder after Schottenheimer elected against having place kicker Brett Conway try a 55-yard field goal in the final seconds of the first half and a 51-yarder into the wind in the fourth quarter with the Cowboys leading 10-7. The Cowboys recovered Conway's second onside kick effort after a penalty on the first try, then ran out the clock.
"It's very disappointing," Redskins defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "In my mind and heart, I felt like the defense let us down."
The Redskins went three plays and out on their first possession and the Cowboys promptly went 68 yards to move in front.
Dallas threw only two passes on its nine-play touchdown drive. Wiley ran for nine yards on a third-and-four play. The Cowboys attacked Bailey, with Carter rolling right and throwing to Ismail for a 13-yard gain. Ismail again got open against Bailey on third and six, and his reception for a 16-yard gain gave Dallas a first down at the Redskins 20-yard line.