Victory Raises Stakes for Dallas Week
Monday, September 22, 2008
As the day grew late and victory had been assured, a clamor rose in the stands behind FedEx Field's northwest end zone yesterday afternoon. It started small, buried in the throats of the heartiest few, the truest of believers and then slowly wafted into the afternoon sky.
" We want Dallas! We want Dallas! We want Dallas! " It bounced from seat to seat, row to row, until it had blossomed into a minor roar.
" We want Dallas! We want Dallas! We want Dallas! "
Some of the Washington Redskins heard the chant, smiled and then did the things that football players do when they win games, holding their helmets aloft, waving toward the cheering faces in the stands, throwing their gloves and sweatbands into grateful hands. This 24-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, their second win in a row, has given them confidence and emboldened so many of the fans who looked ready to abandon them just two weeks before. But their self-belief is not such that they were ready to wish for a game they normally dread.
Yes, a game looms Sunday against Washington's most hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys -- perhaps the best team in the NFC -- and the thought seemed to taunt Redskins Coach Jim Zorn, who is heading into his first Dallas week as a coach. To properly motivate himself, he said he was going to think of the Oakland Raiders, a hated rival from his days as a player with the Seattle Seahawks.
Mostly, though, the Redskins offered caution.
"Let's try and enjoy this win right now," tackle Chris Samuels said.
After all, it wasn't all that long ago that the last thing the fans in the stadium would have wanted to see was the Cowboys.
In the days following Washington's first game of the year, a dismal 16-7 loss to the New York Giants, the fans berated this team and its new coach, charging that Zorn seemed in over his head and quarterback Jason Campbell could not handle Zorn's West Coast offense.
How much things can change in just two weeks.
Yesterday, Campbell looked as he had been running the West Coast offense for years, firing passes to seven players in putting up 193 passing yards with two touchdowns. And Zorn, who had appeared afraid to run his full variety of offensive plays in the first two weeks, suddenly called a mix of passes and reverses and options that looked more like the offense he promised to run.
A defense that appeared to be overmatched against Arizona's star-laden offense forced the Cardinals to turn the ball over for the first two times this season and held them to just two touchdowns.