Washington Redskins lose to Dallas, 17-0, to finish winless in the NFC East

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 28, 2009; D01

Although it is debatable where the disappointing 2009 season ranks among the worst in Washington Redskins franchise history, this much is fact: The team had won at least one game against NFC East opponents for 14 consecutive seasons.

It didn't this season.

With a 17-0 loss Sunday night to the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field, the Redskins accomplished the dubious feat of going winless in the six division games. The Redskins failed to defeat their division rivals -- the Cowboys, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles -- for the first time since the 1994 season and were outscored, 146-93, in those games.

Since the AFL-NFL merger, the Redskins have been shut out in the division only twice. The Redskins were shut out at home for the first time since the 2003 season, when they lost to the Cowboys, 27-0.

For the second time in as many weeks, the Redskins (4-11) were clearly outplayed from the start against an NFC East opponent in front of announced crowd of 88,221, providing fans with little to cheer. The Giants set the tone early during their 45-12 rout in Week 15, and the Cowboys (10-5) held a 14-0 halftime lead Sunday before a national television audience, in what was likely the last game on Washington's home field forembattled Coach Jim Zorn.

"I'm not going to concern myself at this particular time on speculation," Zorn said when asked if this was the end of the line for him. "I am going to try to push forward and lead the football team on this final season week."

The Redskins lost right guard Mike Williams (toe) and safety Reed Doughty (ankle) in the second quarter, and as has usually been the case this season, Washington's patchwork, ineffective offensive line again was not up to the challenge against the Cowboys' formidable defensive front.

"Did we even get in the red zone?" Zorn asked after the game. "The frustrating thing was their front four beat us. We couldn't mount any consistency with our offense. That was the big story for us."

The unit failed to provide adequate protection for quarterback Jason Campbell -- whose first-quarter interception helped Dallas score its first touchdown -- or consistently open holes in the running game. By halftime, the Cowboys had outgained the Redskins in total yards, 216-97. The Redskins had a 2.2-yard average on 11 rushes to that point. Overall, Dallas had 393 total yards. The Redskins finished with 218.

Campbell went 24 for 39 for 199 yards with the interception. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo completed 25 of 38 passes for 286 yards. He threw a touchdown pass and an interception.

With the Cowboys twice needing one yard on fourth down in the third quarter, the Redskins' defense, as it has done often, gave the ball back to the offense. But the offense did little, which helped the Cowboys clinch a playoff berth and kept alive their hopes of winning the division title. The Cowboys play host to the Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) in their regular season finale next week, with the winner clinching the NFC East championship.

Former Redskins place kicker Shaun Suisham returned to FedEx Field for the first time since being released Dec. 8. The Cowboys signed Suisham on Dec. 21, and he made a 23-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 17-0 lead with 7 minutes 44 seconds left to play in the game.

The Redskins, meantime, last week added another embarrassing moment to their long list in a tumultuous season.

On Friday, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was sent home from practice for disciplinary reasons after he showed up late for a team meeting. In an interview later that day, Haynesworth revealed he has a poor relationship with defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who has been dismissive, Haynesworth said, in ignoring Haynesworth's suggestions on how to improve the Redskins' defense, which ranked ninth overall through Week 15.

Before Haynesworth signed with the team in free agency last February, high-ranking Redskins officials assured Haynesworth that Blache would make adjustments in his disciplined scheme to enable Haynesworth to play as aggressively as he did during his first seven seasons with the Tennessee Titans. But that has not happened enough, Haynesworth believes.

"He voiced an opinion," Zorn said. "It was unfortunate. it was a frustration over what we felt today: frustration over not winning. [Tonight] everybody was trying to work hard together to try to win that football game."

The Cowboys opened a two-touchdown lead on Marion Barber's three-yard run with eight minutes to play before halftime. On the play before Barber's touchdown, Dallas tight end Jason Witten beat safety LaRon Landry off the line, caught a short pass from Romo and ran away from Landry, who slipped and fell to the ground, for a 69-yard gain. Suisham made the point-after kick to give the Cowboys a 14-0 lead.

Landry has struggled in coverage throughout the season and performed poorly on Witten's big play. Landry failed to jam Witten at the line and trailed him in the pattern from the start.

On the game's opening possession, Dallas cornerback Terence Newman intercepted Campbell's second pass after Fred Davis inadvertently tipped it to Newman, and the Cowboys quickly capitalized. Starting with the ball on Washington's 36 after Newman's nine-yard return, the Cowboys scored seven plays later on Romo's four-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams in the right corner of the end zone. Suisham's successful point-after kick gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

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