Cowboys' Bledsoe Is Left Exposed

By Les Carpenter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 19, 2005

Once he could throw his way out of the trouble, counting on his right arm to make the impossible heaves even as the wall came down in front of him. But that was back when Drew Bledsoe was a strapping towheaded quarterback from the arid fields of Eastern Washington with the boundless energy of a 24-year-old.

By last night as the dam broke and brought a flood of burgundy and white, it was an old Bledsoe with 13 years of NFL collisions behind him, standing helpless in the Dallas Cowboys' backfield. His line had deceived him, his receivers were covered. There was nowhere for him to go. He was all alone.

And in came the Redskins.

There was Phillip Daniels roaring from Bledsoe's left, dropping his head and driving 290 pounds into the quarterback's spine.

Around the other side stormed Renaldo Wynn and Cedric Killings, collapsing on Bledsoe. His arms dropped. The ball almost dropped.

Suddenly Bledsoe, the best hope of this Cowboys season, looked very, very old.

He folded, collapsed, turned his back like an old, punch-drunk heavyweight unable to do anything but cover up and absorb the beating.

Later, he walked through the Dallas locker room, heaved his giant shoulders after the worst Cowboys loss to Washington and sighed.

He said something about the defense the Redskins played against him, mentioning the cover 2 the defensive backs used on his receivers as well as the pressure from the defensive line. "They did a nice job," he said. He noted that Gregg Williams, Washington's assistant head coach-defense and Bledsoe's head coach in Buffalo, was known for his defensive blitzes.

"But that wasn't the problem today," he added.

No, the problems for Dallas -- once considered a solid wild-card team -- went far beyond a quarterback who was unable to roll his way out of trouble. The Cowboys appeared stunned as they flailed at the parade of Redskins running backs who thundered through their tackles. They couldn't get a hand on Santana Moss or Chris Cooley, who slithered out of their grasp.

As the final seconds ticked down, several Cowboys players sprinted for the tunnel and the refuge of their locker room. Coach Bill Parcells, made a turn toward the same tunnel, then spotted Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs, so he came back, gave a half-hearted handshake and then walked quickly off the field, turning every few steps to look back at the scoreboard as if he couldn't believe the 35-7 defeat that glared back at him.

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