The Washington Redskins called it their Super Bowl and vowed to give their fans just a little bit of solace near the end of a trying season by beating the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, they provided a performance as pitiable and listless as they come and were overwhelmed by the Cowboys, 27-0, on a miserably wet and chilly day at rapidly emptying FedEx Field.
"That was just embarrassing," cornerback Fred Smoot said. "I'm embarrassed for D.C. I'm embarrassed for everyone who's a Redskins fan."
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman gets plenty of time as a ballcarrier -- he intercepted three passes. Washington Redskins ace wide receiver Laveranues Coles had no catches, two tackles.
(Jonathan Newton -- The Washington Post)
The Redskins (5-9) ensured a second straight losing season under Coach Steve Spurrier and were officially eliminated from playoff contention. In a season full of low points, they may have reached a new nadir. They suffered the franchise's first shutout at home since 1993 and its most lopsided shutout defeat at home since a 27-0 loss to the Chicago Bears on Nov. 4, 1951. Spurrier said that one of his teams last had been shut out in 1987, when he was coaching Duke.
"There's not too much to say," said Spurrier, whose record against NFC East opponents dropped to 2-9. "The best team won. Dallas is a better team than we are. . . . I don't know what else to say. They kicked our tails pretty good."
Quarterback Tim Hasselbeck threw four interceptions -- three by Cowboys rookie cornerback Terence Newman -- while completing only 6 of 26 passes for 56 yards. He finished with an almost unthinkable passer rating of 0.0. Tight end Zeron Flemister and punt returner Chad Morton lost fumbles, and wide receiver Laveranues Coles was held without a catch. About the only bright spots for the Redskins, who didn't progress past the Dallas 27-yard line all day and managed two first downs in the second half, were tailback Rock Cartwright's 94 rushing yards and punter Bryan Barker's three-yard pass completion on a fake punt.
A few fans who remained near the end of the game threw snowballs at the home team, according to Redskins players.
"They should have thrown a glacier out there," Smoot said. "We stunk. We stunk the place up. They're tired of it. I'm tired of it."
The Redskins' frustrations spilled over in the postgame locker room. Smoot said that only about half the Redskins played with the necessary passion. Fellow cornerback Champ Bailey said, "We came to fight, but we just didn't."
Asked about his team's shortcomings on offense, linebacker Jessie Armstead said: "You hate to get shut out. Some guys on the other side of the ball have to speak on that part." Right tackle Jon Jansen said: "We may have more talent than the Cowboys. But it takes a team to get to the playoffs."
The Cowboys (9-5) jumped in front quickly on a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Quincy Carter to running back Richie Anderson, and never looked back. Carter provided a three-yard touchdown run, and place kicker Billy Cundiff had field goals of 34 and 20 yards. Tailback Troy Hambrick did the heavy lifting on offense by rushing for 189 yards on 33 carries, and the Cowboys bounced back from two straight losses after a week of badgering by Coach Bill Parcells.
"I kind of put their back to the wall a little bit in this game," Parcells said, "and they responded well."
The Cowboys had little difficulty on their first possession, moving 74 yards on 10 plays to grab a 7-0 advantage. Carter connected with wide receiver Terry Glenn for 14 yards on a third-and-four play early in the drive, and Hambrick was effective with runs of 12 and 15 yards.
Armstead chased down Carter as the quarterback scrambled toward the sideline for a sack and a three-yard loss that left the Cowboys in a third-and-nine predicament from the Redskins 21. But Carter dumped the ball on a screen pass to Anderson, who got good blocking and went untouched by any Redskins defenders as he weaved his way into the end zone.
Both offenses struggled from there. Hasselbeck found Flemister for a 10-yard completion on the Redskins' first offensive play. But the drive bogged down soon thereafter and the Redskins punted. They went three plays and out on their second drive when Cartwright was stuffed for no gain on third and one, and they moved into Dallas territory early in the second quarter but stalled on two Hasselbeck incompletions.