Owner Daniel Snyder said yesterday that Sunday's bitterly disappointing overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys hasn't changed his view that the Washington Redskins will be a playoff-caliber team this season.
"What we have is a great football team in the works," Snyder said during an appearance before the Greater Gaithersburg Chamber of Commerce at the Gaithersburg Hilton.
The Redskins' first regular season game under Snyder couldn't have been more gut-wrenching. They led, 35-14, with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter but lost, 41-35, on a 76-yard touchdown pass from Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman to wide receiver Raghib Ismail just over four minutes into overtime.
Snyder credited the pinpoint passing of Aikman, which produced five touchdown passes, for the outcome, but acknowledged that the Redskins' mistakes also were a factor.
"Obviously we had a little bit of turmoil this weekend," Snyder said. "At least it was exciting. . . . We obviously had a bunch of preventable errors."
And Snyder said he doesn't want to see a repeat of the leg cramps that sidelined five Redskins players, including three members of the starting secondary, late in Sunday's game.
"They'd better not get dehydrated next weekend," Snyder said.
Still, Snyder said he was encouraged by much of what he saw Sunday, and expects things to improve beginning with Sunday's road game against the New York Giants.
"It's got us all fired up," he said.
". . . For the first time in a long time, we looked like a team for three quarters."
Snyder called cornerback Champ Bailey, the team's first-round pick in April's college draft who had an interception Sunday and blanketed Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin for much of the afternoon, a "special player." Snyder got Bailey signed to a contract in time to participate in a full training camp this summer, and vowed to do the same next year even if the Redskins retain all three of their first-round draft choices.
"I'm a believer that guys who don't make it into camp don't have good rookie seasons," Snyder said. "If we don't trade one of those picks this year, we'll get those players signed and in camp. They'd better be in camp, or they won't be on the team. I'm not interested in mucking around with players. They need to work hard and be ready to play."
Snyder also vowed to aid the Washington-Baltimore area's bid to host the Olympics in 2012.
"The nation's capital should have the Olympics," he said. "I've met with the committee, and they're going to push on with it. I'd be happy to use our stadium and training facility to push ahead. We will be active and involved in pushing forward, even though it would not be financially advantageous to me."