Washington played in Dallas on Nov. 22 having already lost No. 1 running back Clinton Portis and starting right guard Randy Thomas for the year. Their replacements, Ladell Betts and Chad Rinehart, were lost that day. And yet the offense scored 88 points the next three weeks against Philadelphia, New Orleans and Oakland before falling flat Monday against the Giants. The line, which has used 11 players, has struggled to protect quarterback Jason Campbell. Dallas’ defense, ranked 14th but tied for sixth in points allowed, held the high-powered Saints to 190 yards and a field goal through three quarters last week. Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware, who kills the Redskins, was carted off with a neck injury six days earlier, then had two sacks last week against New Orleans.
WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL
The Redskins rank ninth on defense, fifth against the pass and third in sacks per attempt. However, they have surrendered 15 plays of at least 30 yards the past seven games, including three while getting routed Monday. Safety LaRon Landry and cornerback Carlos Rogers have been particularly victimized in coverage. The Cowboys have gotten such big plays from eight players, but they didn’t get any in the first matchup with Washington. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is just 3-3 against the Redskins, who have held the Cowboys to 39 points in his three starts at Washington. Marion Barber ran well in both of Dallas’ victories the past two years. Backup receiver Patrick Crayton is a Redskins killer.
This game has the potential to be remembered as Shaun Suisham’s revenge. Cut three weeks ago by the Redskins after missing a gimme field goal try that would’ve sealed an upset of the then-unbeaten Saints, Suisham on Monday was signed by the Cowboys, his previous team. Suisham made 18 of 21 kicks for Washington this year. Notably, his other two misses came Nov. 22 at Dallas. Despite a bad game last week against the Giants, the Redskins have the NFC’s best coverage units. Their return units, however, are among the worst. Crayton has returned two punts for touchdowns. Dallas punter Mat McBriar is having a better year than Washington’s Hunter Smith, who may not play Sunday. Suisham’s potential replacement, rookie Graham Gano, is 2-for-2 on field goals but already has had an extra point blocked.
- David Elfin