Chapter 5, Page 180

Eight days later, the Redskins went to Dallas for one of the most difficult games of the season, rallying from a 21-10 deficit to defeat the Cowboys, 33-31. On a hot, miserable Monday night in Texas, Gibbs got a magnificent effort from his players, a fitting response to the challenge of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who had called the game "our Super Bowl." Chip Lohmiller kicked four long field goals, Byner rushed for 104 yards, and the Redskins controlled the ball for 22 of the game's final 30 minutes.

If a team can turn a corner in Week 2, the Redskins had turned one. They would go on to win their first 11 games by an average of 20.2 points. A team-record eight Redskins, including Rypien, Byner and Clark, would be named to the Pro Bowl.

After virtually every victory, Gibbs would say that it almost seemed easy. He would tell reporters: "Well, the coaches are just kind of going along for the ride on this one. It's the players who are doing it."

It was Gibbs, however, who made sure that those players kept focused intently on the next game, that they took nothing for granted. In Game 4, the Redskins went on the road to play a winless Cincinnati team. Those kinds of games scare coaches. It's so hard to coax an emotional effort from players facing opponents who are considered easy marks. Yet by the time the Redskins got to Cincinnati, Gibbs had convinced the Redskins that they were in for the fight of their lives, and they won, 34-27.

The biggest hurdle of the first half of the season came in Game 8, when the Redskins went to the Meadowlands to face the Giants. The Redskins had lost nine consecutive non-strike games against the New Yorkers, and they knew that their 7-0 start would not mean much without a victory over the Giants. "We were 7-0, and it was like we ought to be apologizing for it — unless we beat the Giants," defensive tackle Eric Williams said.

The game didn't start well. By halftime, the Redskins were trailing 13-0. But they roared back in the second half on a pair of Rypien-to-Clark touchdown passes and a big-time effort from rookie Ricky Ervins, who subbed for Byner in the second half and gained 82 yards on 20 carries. Final score: Redskins 17, Giants 13.

"There was a monkey off our back after that," Byner said.

By the time the underdog Cowboys came to Washington for Game 12, the Redskins had extended their winning streak to 11-0. That week, Cowboys Coach Jimmy Johnson had worked his team shrewdly.

Page 180 | Next Page: 181

Other Pages in Chapter 5:
172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205

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