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Overall, though, Rex managed to rejuvenate the offense and restore some of its confidence. Let’s see if it carries over to Seattle.

PR BRANDON BANKS: This was the game fans — and coaches — have been waiting for from Banks. For at least one afternoon, he recaptured the explosiveness that made him one of the Redskins‘ biggest weapons last season. The difference? According to Banks, it was the blocking in front of him and a favorable lack of hang time by Dallas P Mat McBriar.

Banks likes to run laterally to set up his blocks immediately after fielding a punt, and that worked on his 55-yard return in the second half. By moving to his right, it was almost as if he were a running back in Mike Shanahan’s stretch zone. When WR Terrence Austin and LB Rob Jackson sealed WR Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Banks put his foot in the ground and exploded up the field behind them into open space. TE Logan Paulsen also made a key block on that one.

Austin and WR Anthony Armstrong had key blocks on his 32-yarder that set up Washington’s go-ahead touchdown at the end of the first half. FB Darrel Young peeled back and lined up a block to de-cleat a Cowboys player, but the guy saw it coming and bailed.

Dallas runs an unbalanced punt protection formation, but that wasn’t a major factor in Banks’ successful returns, players said.

WR DONTE STALLWORTH: All four of Stallworth’s catches for 51 yards occurred on the game-tying drive or in overtime. He ran clean routes and made himself available to QB Rex Grossman in the middle of the field.

He ran an exceptional fade route on the game-tying touchdown. He stayed wide of the cornerback off the line and maintained enough space to catch Grossman’s well-thrown pass. He did well to drag his back foot to establish possession in bounds. Not bad for someone who was released 11 days earlier. It will be interesting to see if his role is expanded against Seattle this week.

LT TRENT WILLIAMS: I debated this one for a bit. Truth is, the offensive line’s run blocking was a mess — again — and Williams contributed to the problem with some failed blocks on which he was driven back and failed to capture the edge.

However, he blocked Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware one-on-one on 14 of the 34 dropbacks on which Ware rushed, and he did not surrender a sack. That was crucial, especially considering how much the Redskins relied on the pass. Although Williams was flagged once for holding Ware, he generally did a good job moving his feet and staying square against him. Williams had a good base in keeping his chest in front of Ware when Ware went to his spin move on a second-quarter rush, and that allowed for a 23-yard completion.

I’d have to go back and compare past games, but the fact that Ware rushed on RT Jammal Brown’s side 12 times might be one of the better compliments Williams has received.


K GRAHAM GANO: Two missed field-goals in an overtime loss, including one in overtime, will land him on this list every time. That Gano is fighting another bout of inconsistency has to trouble Mike Shanahan. It seemed that Gano was past this during the first half of the season.

Shanahan understands patience is required to develop a young kicker, but it’s fair to ask whether Shanahan would stick with Gano if he were missing kicks and the Redskins were, say, 6-4 in the thick of the playoff race. Gano hyper-analyzes his misses, and that can be counterproductive from a mental standpoint. If he has a good game against Seattle, maybe we’ll look back at these last two games as a minor slump. But the weather is expected to be rainy out there — not exactly ideal for kicking. How Gano meets the challenge might teach us something about him.

LG TYLER POLUMBUS: I’ve said it about Will Montgomery and Maurice Hurt, and I’ll say it again now: It’s not Polumbus’ fault he is the Redskins‘ best option at left guard. When you sign a free agent off the street on Nov. 9 and he’s starting for you 11 days later, it indicates extremely bad luck with injuries and, more importantly, poor roster planning. So credit Polumbus for scrapping and fighting in his Redskins debut, especially because at 6-foot-8 he’s more of a natural tackle.

Much of the pressure QB Rex Grossman faced came from defenders who beat Polumbus. DE Jason Hatcher got around him and stripped Grossman in the second quarter. The Cowboys rushed only three on that play; protection never should be an issue in that situation. Polumbus also was penalized once for holding. His struggles in the run game included a whiff on a pull block on the game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. He missed OLB Anthony Spencer, and RB Ryan Torain was stopped for a loss of 1.

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