For defense, a question of safety

As the Washington Redskins celebrated their wild, last-second victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Adam Archuleta sat in front of his locker, a lonely figure with bowed head

Archuleta, the highest-paid safety in NFL history, had been benched during the bye week in favor of newly signed, 35-year-old Troy Vincent. Compounding Archuleta’s frustration, he was beaten by Cowboys tight end Jason Witten on a 28-yard completion that set up a potential game-winning field goal try before Vincent blocked it.

“I thought I was in good shape, but I didn’t make the play,” Archuleta said softly. “Guys were busting their butts all game, and I let everybody down. [The blocked field goal] was a big relief, but in the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘Why couldn’t I make the big play?’ I’m going through a lot of stuff right now. There’s a lot being thrown at me. What’s going to matter is how I respond.”

Archuleta, 28, was a starter when healthy during his five years with St. Louis and earlier this season in Washington. And despite his poor play, the Redskins have him in their plans.

“Adam will in be all kinds of packages where I can get him down around the box,” assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said.

Not that easy

Linebacker Marcus Washington didn’t go home to Alabama during the bye week. He went shopping.

“I went to Staples and told them, ‘I play for the Redskins. We’re kind of down right now. Do you have anything for me?’ ” Washington said.

He left the store with a red “EASY” button that says, “That was easy” when pushed.

Though the Redskins’ victory certainly wasn’t easy, Washington did his part.

With Dallas leading 19-12 and facing third-and-1 at the Redskins’ 41-yard line late in the third quarter — and having converted eight of 11 third downs — the Redskins dumped running back Marion Barber for a 1-yard loss to force a punt. Later, Washington sacked Tony Romo for an 8-yard loss to set up third-and-26. Dallas didn’t score again.

“It really wasn’t that easy, but we have good character guys on this team, and I think that really had a lot to do with this win,” said Washington, who earlier had been whooping through the locker room with a CD player blaring. “You’ve just got to keep sawing wood. After three losses, you’re wondering if the tree is ever going to fall, but guys still believed.

“There’s no magic. It’s just guys working hard and staying together. And we’ve got a great head coach who stayed behind us. We really want to dedicate that game to him.”

Give him the ball

Sean Taylor recovered two fumbles last season, returning the first 39 yards for a touchdown to clinch a playoff berth in the season finale at Philadelphia and the second 51 yards for a score to help upset Tampa Bay in the playoff opener.

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