IRVING, Tex., Dec. 10 The coach, Terry Robiskie, was new but the results were the same for the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins were pushed closer to elimination from NFL playoff contention today while edging near a place in the history book as one of the most disappointing teams in recent history with a 32-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys before 63,467 at Texas Stadium.
Things can only look up for Terry Robiskie after Sunday's coaching debut with the Redskins.
(John McDonnell - The Washington Post)
The Redskins lost their third straight game--their fifth defeat in their past six games--dropping to 7-7 and all but extinguishing any realistic hopes of reaching the playoffs as a wild-card team with a late push under Robiskie, who replaced the fired Norv Turner on Monday on an interim basis.
The Cowboys (5-9) beat the Redskins for the second time this season, extending their winning streak over Washington to seven, dating from 1997.
"All week, we talked about focus," said Robiskie. "We talked about competing. We talked about coming out here to fight a war. We didn't do that. Obviously I'm responsible."
Said Redskins cornerback Deion Sanders: "We did not come to play today. We were prepared. We were fired up when we left the locker room. I don't know what happened between here and the field."
The loss also officially eliminated Washington from the NFC East race.
Robiskie's chances of keeping the job next season appeared to be damaged severely, although owner Daniel M. Snyder said Robiskie was not eliminated from consideration today. Asked what disappointed him the most, Snyder said of his $100 million collection of players: "They let Terry down."
Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman had his future put in further doubt when he suffered his 11th concussion--and ninth in the NFL--on a first-quarter hit by Redskins rookie linebacker LaVar Arrington. But little else went wrong for Dallas as Robiskie's tenure as a head coach began in calamitous fashion for the Redskins. This was as ugly--or uglier--than anything the Redskins produced this season under Turner, who was dismissed following consecutive defeats at home to the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.
"We were ready," Redskins quarterback Jeff George said. "We were prepared well. . . . The energy level was so high. I didn't expect to come out flat like that. . . . That was a big game for us, and we didn't come out fighting."
Said defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson: "To go out and perform like that, it's something deeper. We're letting ourselves down and letting each other down, as well as our coaches, organization and fans."
The Redskins botched special teams plays. They squandered timeouts. They permitted two touchdown runs by Cowboys wide receivers on end-around plays. They fumbled on their first two offensive plays of the second half. They played without defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield, who was sick, and lost left guard Keith Sims for the season to a ruptured Achilles' tendon on their first drive of the afternoon.
They allowed George to be harassed by Cowboys defenders all day, and they failed to use the running of tailback Stephen Davis to exploit the league's last-ranked rushing defense. Davis ran for 57 yards on 16 carries.
Robiskie tried using cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Sanders as wide receivers. He tried a five-wideout formation. But nothing worked. The Cowboys turned to third-string quarterback Anthony Wright, with backup Randall Cunningham also hurt, and never looked back. They threw deep against Sanders, who was playing his first game in Dallas since being released by the Cowboys in June.