The Washington Redskins are facing their first crisis of the season, one game in.
An 0-1 beginning isn't that big of a deal--even when the loss is an ugly one, such as the Redskins' 41-35 overtime defeat against the Dallas Cowboys yesterday at Redskins Stadium in which they scored 32 consecutive points but squandered a 21-point lead.
An 0-3 start would be a big deal, though, and now the Redskins face consecutive games at Giants Stadium against the New York Giants and New York Jets. They play four of their next five games on the road.
Last year, the Redskins' 0-7 start began with an ugly loss in the opener. Gus Frerotte threw two costly interceptions in the third quarter to cost himself a starting position and the Redskins fell to the Giants, 31-24. They were in no mood for comparisons yesterday.
"We're not thinking about last year," cornerback Darrell Green said. "Last year is over. What are we going to talk about next, my sixth-grade year?"
Owner Daniel Snyder delivered a hopeful, upbeat speech to the Redskins players after yesterday's game. Sources said Snyder remains supportive of Coach Norv Turner. But the pressure on the Redskins' players, Turner and his assistants--particularly defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coach LeCharls McDaniel--certainly intensified.
Turner sidestepped questions about his job security, and said he remains confident the Redskins will have a successful season. "My focus is going to be on getting ready for the Giants," he said. ". . . We're capable of being a very good football team."
While the Cowboys were making their comeback, the Redskins were botching an onside kick recovery, jumping offside four times on one drive by Dallas and having 12 players on the field on another. A potential winning field goal attempt never got kicked because of a mishandled snap.
"We didn't make dumb mistakes during the preseason," reserve cornerback Darryl Pounds said. "It just caught up with us."
The Redskins were wildly optimistic about their defense following a 3-1 preseason in which the starters surrendered only six points in seven quarters. But the Cowboys rolled up 541 yards yesterday.
Quarterback Troy Aikman threw five touchdown passes, and the Redskins had no answers in crunch time.
Turner and his players said it wasn't a matter of believing the game was over, or becoming too conservative on defense.
"People are going to say, 'Did you play too soft?' " Turner said. "The play that got them within seven was an all-out blitz."
The Redskins took a cue from their owner and took an optimistic approach, saying they can build on the good things they saw.
"If I had nothing positive to say about our team, that would be different," Green said. ". . . We're very confident we can get the job done."