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  Redskins Fall, Cowboys Keep Kicking, 38-3

By David Aldridge
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 27, 1993; Page C1

IRVING, TEX., DEC. 26 -- Throughout a horrifying 1993 season the Washington Redskins have lost many times, but rarely have been made to feel insignificant and helpless. That changed today as the Dallas Cowboys unloaded on the Redskins, 38-3, in an end-to-end stomping before 64,497 at Texas Stadium. It was the Redskins' worst loss in eight years, since the Chicago Bears beat them 45-10 on Sept. 29, 1985.

Washington fell to 4-11 and is now assured of its worst season in 30 years. After the game quarterback Mark Rypien had much to say about the organization and lamented that this might be his last year with the Redskins {Story, Page A1}. "As much as I'd like to stay. ... finally you get an understanding that it's time to move on," said Rypien. "Not because you want to. But you can just sense from a feeling around you that this might be the time."

The Redskins were bludgeoned in all phases today after scoring the first three points, a 32-yard Chip Lohmiller field goal in the opening quarter. From there, they were helpless against the Cowboys, who will meet the New York Giants next Sunday at the Meadowlands in New Jersey for the National Football Conference East title.

Dallas dispatched Washington with precision, from Troy Aikman's unerring passes, to Emmitt Smith's cutback runs. Aikman (16-of-20, 193 yards) threw for two first-half touchdowns, and Smith finished with 153 yards in 21 carries. Both were on the bench by the end of the third quarter, which ended with a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown by Dallas's Kevin Williams.

"Right now we're just not playing very good," linebacker Andre Collins said. "When you fall behind and you're 4-11 you're going to do some nice things, but you're going to have those breakdowns and give up those big chunks. You can't do that. I'm a victim of it as much as anyone."

It was the most lopsided loss the Redskins have suffered in this series with Dallas. Washington, meanwhile, continued its spiral into offensive hell. Other than a little first-half success running the ball from Reggie Brooks, the Redskins had no punch. Rypien, who after the game sounded off on a variety of subjects, completed 12 passes in 30 attempts for 81 yards and two interceptions. "It's been very difficult these last two or three weeks to get motivated to come out and play," he said.

After their field goal, the Redskins never came close to scoring. They finished with 198 net yards and gained just three yards per offensive play. And after having no penalties last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Washington had 12 today, for 68 yards. Seven of those were by the defense, and, incredibly, each one gave the Cowboys a first down.

"We had to play error-free ball to have a chance," Coach Richie Petitbon said. "Obviously, that didn't happen. It was a very disappointing loss. Dallas has a fine football team and you really have to be at your best to match up with them. ... We haven't played good football for a long, long time. We can't take advantage of breaks and then we give up a lot of things."

The Redskins had a chance on the first series, when middle linebacker Kurt Gouveia's hit on Aikman forced a fumble. Linebacker Monte Coleman recovered for Washington at the Dallas 40, and the Redskins drove to the Cowboys 15. But on third and five Rypien's pass was too far for wide receiver Art Monk and pulled him out of bounds.

"On that first drive we were inches out of bounds on the third down," Rypien said. "Maybe if we put that in for a touchdown we have a little better feeling of control."

After Lohmiller's field goal the Cowboys came back, and the Redskins helped. Dallas drove to the Washington 14, but appeared to be stopped on third down when Aikman's pass to tight end Jay Novacek was knocked down by Coleman. But after a delay of several seconds a flag was thrown on Coleman for pass interference.

Two plays later Aikman threw incomplete for wide receiver Michael Irvin in the end zone. But cornerback Darrell Green was called for pass interference, moving the ball to the Washington 1. Smith dove in two plays later and Eddie Murray's extra point gave Dallas a 7-3 lead with 6:18 left in the first quarter.

Murray missed a 39-yarder on Dallas's next possession, but the Redskins' defense continued to play give-away. It was whistled for six penalties by the time the two-minute warning came along. Two of those came on Dallas's second touchdown drive -- an illegal contact penalty on rookie cornerback Tom Carter and an offsides penalty on defensive end Charles Mann. Mann's penalty came on third and two from the Washington 38 and gave Dallas a first down.

Two plays later, on first and 15 from the Washington 26, Smith tore through a gaping hole for 18 yards. And on the next play, Irvin ran a comeback route and caught Aikman's pass in the back of the end zone for the score. Murray made it 14-3 with 1:54 left in the half.

The Redskins went to the two-minute attack, and it backfired. On third and three from their 45 Rypien threw behind wide receiver Ricky Sanders. The ball caromed into the air and was an easy interception for safety James Washington, who returned the ball to the Redskins 42 with 1:01 left in the half.

Smith got 13 yards on a pass from Aikman. On the next play Collins broke free and sacked Aikman for a five-yard loss. But Collins was flagged for grabbing Aikman's face mask, nullifying the play. And on the next play Aikman went for 12 yards to wide receiver Alvin Harper to the Redskins 17.

"Let's don't get into the officiating," Petitbon said. "That sack on Andre, it's a very close call."

Two plays later Aikman threw a strike to Harper on a corner route. Carter was there but the pass was perfect, and Harper tiptoed into the end zone with 13 seconds remaining. Murray made it 21-3 and the Redskins were done, for all intents and purposes.

The second half was just a further indictment of Washington's offensive woes. Sometimes Brooks got going on a delay or draw, but the Cowboys eventually stuffed those runs, forcing the Redskins to pass. And that, nowadays, is tantamount to Washington punting the ball. Rypien has no timing with his receivers, who change from day to day -- today rookie wide receiver Gregory Clifton was in the lineup, replacing Tim McGee -- and the offensive line isn't giving him enough time to take deep shots, anyway.

Dallas was back in the end zone on its second series of the third quarter, even though a holding penalty pushed the Cowboys back to their 31 and gave them a first and 20. Aikman hit Irvin for seven yards, and on the next play, Smith blew through a huge hole for 18 yards and the first down at the Washington 44. On the next play Smith cut back, and the gambling, over-pursuing Redskins were caught. Only Carter's speed kept Smith to a 35-yard gain to the Washington 9. It was his last carry of the day.

Backup Lincoln Coleman carried it the final nine yards, scoring two plays later, and Murray's extra point made it 28-3 with 5:10 left in the third.

"The {offensive} line did a great job again," said Smith, fighting for his third straight league rushing title. "I wanted to get back in there and get some more yards, but KW ruined it for me."

That would be the aforementioned Kevin Williams. After the Redskins did nothing again they punted, downing the ball at the Cowboys 31. But snapper Marc Rabb, making his first start for the injured Guy Bingham, was called for illegally releasing down field.

So Reggie Roby punted again. This time, Williams had an open lane down the middle of the field. He was never touched once he cut back at the Redskins 30 and beat Coleman's diving tackle attempt. Dallas's Elvis Patterson eliminated Roby with a vicious block at the 31, and Williams high-stepped into the end zone for his second return for a score this season, tying the team record set by Bob Hayes and Kelvin Martin.

Murray made it 35-3 with 2:16 left in the third. After three long months, the season will finally end Friday afternoon at RFK Stadium against the Minnesota Vikings.

"You don't win every year," Green said. "But I've got Super Bowl rings in a safe deposit box. You take yours. From a Christian perspective, this is a great time for us. It's character-building for us, as individuals, and for the team as well. I'm not down in the mouth. Obviously it hurts, but I can walk off the field because I know I played every play as hard as I could."

© Copyright 1993 The Washington Post Company

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