IRVING, Tex., Nov. 28 -- The players and coaches change, but the hex lives on. Coach Steve Spurrier did not hand a game ball to owner Daniel Snyder after the Washington Redskins had yet another season smashed into tiny pieces by the Dallas Cowboys, losing to their longtime rivals for the 10th consecutive time, 27-20, today at Texas Stadium.
The Redskins remained winless against the Cowboys since 1997 and winless against Dallas on Thanksgiving in six tries. They had their already faint hopes of reaching the playoffs all but extinguished, dropping into a third-place tie with the Cowboys in the NFC East with a record of 5-7.
_____Heading to Hawaii?_____
Based on their play this season, which of the Redskins deserve a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl roster?
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"It's amazing," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said in the Redskins' somber locker room. "It's absolutely amazing. It's sickening. Our fans deserve more, and we haven't been able to deliver for them since I've been here."
The Redskins lost middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter to a knee injury that club officials suspected could require season-ending surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and lost Wilkinson to a torn calf muscle that could end his season. They lost punter Bryan Barker to a broken nose and watched linebacker Jessie Armstead and safety David Terrell go in and out of the lineup with lesser injuries.
Snyder ended his day sitting dejectedly in the coaches' dressing area in the locker room. It was not what he and Spurrier envisioned when Spurrier said in his introductory news conference at Redskins Park in January that he would give a game ball to Snyder the first time he beat the Cowboys.
"You don't have to worry about any game balls on this side," Spurrier said after the game. "They kicked our butts. . . . I told [Snyder], 'Sorry we're not good enough to beat them right now.' . . . We would have loved to have come here and broken that streak they have against us, but we weren't good enough."
Quarterback Chad Hutchinson threw two touchdown passes and tailback Emmitt Smith had 144 of the Cowboys' 211 rushing yards. But the Cowboys turned the game around with a defensive play in the third quarter, when rookie safety Roy Williams grabbed a pass that bounced off Redskins running back Kenny Watson for an interception and ran five yards for a touchdown that got Dallas to 20-17.
The rest seemed inevitable, as Hutchinson connected with wide receiver Joey Galloway for a 41-yard touchdown pass with just more than 10 minutes to play in the game to put Dallas in front and the Redskins encountered nothing but frustration down the stretch. As one sign at Texas Stadium read: "Daniel Snyder purchased the Redskins, but the Cowboys own them."
Said Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey: "They've got our number. Every time, they kick our butt."
Wuerffel threw touchdown passes of 40 yards to wide receiver Rod Gardner, 16 yards to tight end Zeron Flemister and 11 yards to wideout Derrius Thompson, the last of which gave the Redskins a 20-10 advantage early in the second half. But Wuerffel also threw three interceptions in a 21-for-36, 243-yard passing day. Tailback Stephen Davis managed only 51 rushing yards on 20 carries as the Redskins had 12 more passes -- with 37 -- than rushing attempts.
"We're sort of into that mentality we're supposed to run the ball," Spurrier said. "We didn't run it very far. . . . We played too scared. I coached a scared game on those third-and-shorts probably too much."
The Redskins also watched place kicker James Tuthill miss an extra point and get a field goal attempt blocked, and shank one key punt as he filled in for Barker. As usual against the Cowboys, just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
"It was in our hands," guard Tre Johnson said. "There was no excuse for us to lose that game. It was in our hands, and we let it go."
The Redskins drove into Cowboys territory on their second drive. An 18-yard completion from Wuerffel to Thompson and a nine-yard run by Davis got the Redskins to the Dallas 31-yard line, with a second-and-one opportunity. Wuerffel took a shot at a touchdown, and wide receiver Darnerien McCants got open by a step. But Wuerffel's throw was short, and cornerback Mario Edwards intercepted.