The catcalls when the Dallas Cowboys were introduced were almost as loud as the raucous cheers for the Washington Redskins from the crowd of 90,367 -- a Redskins record -- at FedEx Field. The historic enmity between the NFC East arch rivals was even more intense, if possible, with Coach Joe Gibbs back on the sideline to renew his rivalry with Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells on a Monday night stage.
Although Parcells-Gibbs matches had been known for close, smash-mouth football, the Cowboys once against turned to a pass-happy offense for a hard-fought 21-18 victory that was won with a touchdown-inducing trick play: Dallas fullback Richie Anderson's option pass to Terry Glenn. It was Anderson's first career completion.
Cowboys' Eddie George, until then held in check by the Redskins' defense, finds room for a one-yard touchdown run with 4 minutes 1 second remaining in first quarter. The drive was aided by a pass interference call on Walt Harris.
(Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
The Cowboys and Redskins entered the game knowing the loser would fall to the bottom of the NFC East, unfamiliar territory for two of the NFL's greatest coaches. And after winning the season-opener, 16-10 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a magical night, the Redskins have dropped to 1-2.
"This is the reality in the league," Gibbs said. "It's an extremely tough league. We've just got to find a way to battle."
Parcells and Gibbs -- whose rivalry during much of the 1980s was marked by close games -- coached their teams to another tight matchup decided in the waning moments. Leading 21-18, the Cowboys converted on third and eight from the Dallas 30-yard line late in the fourth quarter to sustain a drive that helped to eat up valuable time on the clock.
The Redskins managed to get the ball back with 21 seconds remaining. But they had no timeouts -- Gibbs had used all three, including one on an unsuccessful challenge of a call -- and time ran out after a 46-yard completion to Rod Gardner that brought the ball to the Dallas 21-yard line. Gardner could not get out of bounds and the final six seconds ticked off on the clock.
"Six more seconds is all we needed," right guard Randy Thomas said in a grim Redskins locker room. "We were just thinking what we could have done if we had just made some play, but time ran out."
After a slow start, quarterback Mark Brunell was 25 of 43 for 325 yards as Gardner amassed a career-high 167 receiving yards on 10 catches.
"To end like that puts a sour taste in my mouth," Gardner said.
The Redskins lost to the Cowboys for the 13th time in the past 14 games. Parcells has uncharacteristically gone to a pass-oriented offense behind veteran quarterback Vinny Testaverde to compensate for a weak output from the running backs. And the result is a 2-1 record after Dallas's first NFC East game.
After the crowd became quiet following the chicanery-induced touchdown -- the option pass by Anderson -- that gave Dallas a 21-10 lead, the Redskins turned up the noise again as Brunell, who was sacked five times, awoke from his passing slumber while making Gardner his favorite receiver.
One first and 10 from the Dallas 15-yard line, Brunell danced in the pocket as if back in his heyday. The quarterback zipped a pass to Gardner in the back of the end zone for a touchdown with 4:30 remaining in the game. The Redskins attempted a two-point conversion to get within three. And Taylor Jacobs responded with a catch near the sideline, cutting the lead to 21-18, sending the crowd into a tizzy.
Earlier in the fourth quarter, the game was still up for grabs with Dallas ahead 14-10. The Cowboys had the ball on first and 10 at the Washington 26. And Parcells employed a twist to his pass-oriented offense. Anderson received an option pitch to his left. Anderson, a lefty, threw a rainbow pass into the back of the end zone that wideout Terry Glenn snagged using ballerina-like footwork to drag his feet for the completion. Glenn made the 26-yard reception in front of diving rookie Sean Taylor and defensive back Ryan Clark, who arrived late. Parcells smiled broadly and punched the air at Dallas's 21-10 lead with 13:00 left.
"That was a gutsy call," said safety Matt Bowen. "That's one of his trademarks."