The Dallas Cowboys say it's no accident that they seemed to have the Washington Redskins scouted perfectly at times during their 27-17 victory at Texas Stadium on Thursday.
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs has former assistants running the Phoenix Cardinals (Joe Bugel) and San Diego Chargers (Dan Henning), and the Cowboys have played five of their 12 games against the three teams. They say they're starting to learn the thinking.
"We've studied the Redskins going back to playing San Diego the first game of the season," safety Ray Horton said. "With Dan Henning, it's just about the same offense. We were watching the film and we could see what they were going to do. Like, they'd line three guys to one side, and we'd yell out what they were going to run. On a couple of plays, it was like we were in the huddle with them."
Only the Giants, 49ers and Eagles -- who have three of the NFC's four best defenses -- had held the Redskins to 17 points or less until the Cowboys did it.
Beaten at Own Game
The Cowboys had success after borrowing a page from the Redskins' playbook and using a two tight-end set much of the game. Offensive coordinator David Shula said the Cowboys hadn't intended to use the formation until next season, but when rookie wide receiver Alexander Wright got hurt, they decided to go ahead and play Jay Novacek and Robert Awalt together, with Novacek split wide.
Novacek twice got open for big plays, and the pair finished with five catches for 98 yards. Novacek caught four of the passes for 88 yards, and Redskins cornerback Darrell Green said: "That guy shocked me. He's a big target, and Troy Aikman can get him the ball."
Out of the Mouth of Babe
Former Redskins backup quarterback Babe Laufenberg, now the Dallas backup said: "Nobody can say we beat a team that was flat or was overlooking us. Nobody can say we snuck up on the Redskins. Washington needed it bad for the playoffs. This time they didn't take us lightly. This is a team that knows how to win and was really trying."
In the Long Run
Four players rushed for 100 yards against the Redskins last season. Three have done it this year: Dallas's Emmitt Smith gained 132 on 23 carries Thursday and Detroit's Barry Sanders and Philadelphia's Heath Sherman also had 100-yard days. Last year, Neal Anderson, Bobby Humphrey, Paul Palmer and Bo Jackson did it. . . . Smith's 48-yard run is the longest vs. the Redskins this year.