- The Washington Times - Monday, December 3, 2001

The Washington Redskins might be the first team in NFL history to follow an 0-5 start with five straight wins, but they can't beat the lowly Dallas Cowboys. And because of that, their playoff hopes once again are dim.
The Redskins, blowing the chance to control their own destiny for the NFC East title, fell 20-14 to the archrival Cowboys yesterday before 85,112 at FedEx Field. Two huge offensive plays and 215 rushing yards by Dallas led to a ninth straight win in the series, the longest current streak between any two NFL teams.
"They must have wanted it more than us, because they're definitely not a better football team," Redskins quarterback Tony Banks said. "They come out of [this season] beating the Redskins twice. My hat's off to them."
The Redskins (5-6) dropped back below .500 and two games behind the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, tied with division rivals Arizona, their opponent next weekend, and the New York Giants. Odds of the final wild-card berth also look long, because Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta all are 6-5.
"We're still going to fight," linebacker Robert Jones said. "You never know what's going to happen. You don't know how the season's going to unfold, how it's going to turn around. We're not going to give up."
The Redskins have not beaten the Cowboys (3-8) since Oct. 13, 1997. Entering the game Washington had not lost since an Oct. 15 defeat at Dallas, and the Cowboys had not won, losing four in a row. The Cowboys now are 4-0 against Washington over the past two seasons and 4-19 against the rest of the NFL. They play like they think they can't lose to Washington.
"I clearly think they feel that way," Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "And I discussed that with the players on Wednesday. That's the obstacle we have to overcome. And we will overcome it as soon as we make enough plays in the course of a football game that it goes our way."
Each of Dallas' huge offensive plays came on third down. The first, a 46-yard run by Michael Wiley, occurred less than a minute after Washington tied the game 7-7 late in the third quarter. A field goal four plays later put the Cowboys up 10-7. The second, a 64-yard touchdown pass to Rocket Ismail with 6:23 left, all but ended the game at 17-7.
The Redskins fought to catch up but were in too much of a scramble mode. Banks threw an interception on the drive that followed Ismail's touchdown and Dallas kicked another field goal for a 20-7 lead. Washington drove for a touchdown with 53 seconds left and had two chances to recover an onside kick but Dallas covered and ran out the clock.
"Absolutely [Wiley's run and Ismail's catch] were big factors in the ballgame," defensive end Bruce Smith said. "That gave them momentum and put a few points on the board. [But] this wasn't just a situation that was lost on defense. This was lost by each and every phase of this football team offense, defense and special teams."
Nonetheless, Schottenheimer singled out the Cowboys' enormous rushing total as the game's defining statistic. Dallas, which rushed for 211 yards in the Oct. 15 meeting, yesterday got 102 rushing yards from Emmitt Smith, 61 from Wiley and 47 from Troy Hambrick. The Cowboys were playing rookie quarterback Quincy Carter, who had missed the past six games with an injury, but their fourth-ranked rushing offense powered them through.
"Dallas has one of the best offensive lines in football, and they have showed they can run against anybody," Schottenheimer said. "They came out with some things early in the ballgame. I thought we adjusted reasonably well. But in this league the margin between teams is very narrow, and it doesn't matter what [a teams] record is."
Washington, which won five straight by playing low-scoring games of field position, looked like it might take control of another game of scant offense when it scored its first touchdown. After three handoffs to running back Stephen Davis (17 carries, 53 yards) from the Dallas 1, Banks tied the game 7-7 on a 1-yard bootleg scramble when tight end Zeron Flemister couldn't get open.
Cowboys defensive end Peppi Zellner landed on Banks' right ankle but the quarterback, after limping off the field, returned on Washington's next offensive series.
Wiley broke his big run after Banks scored to set up Dallas' field goal to regain a 10-7 lead. Washington then drove to the Cowboys' 24 but Banks fumbled a second-and-7 snap pulling away from center too early and was sacked on third-and-12.
Schottenheimer then chose to fake a 51-yard field, which could have tied the game 10-10, and quick kick. Conway executed the play well and left Dallas at its 6, but the Cowboys drove 94 yards capping the possession with Ismail's touchdown to take a 17-7 lead.
Banks was pressing from the start of the next drive. First he threw an interception to Duane Hawthorne that was called back because of an offsides penalty. Five plays later he tried to hit Ki-Jana Carter on third-and-10 but the pass tipped off the running back's hands and to Cowboys defensive back Izell Reese.
The decision not to kick the 51-yard field goal was the second such call by Schottenheimer in the game. At the end of the first half he could have attempted a 55-yarder but instead chose to attempt a Hail Mary pass.
On first down with 11 seconds left Banks threw into the end zone for Rod Gardner instead of trying a shorter pass to set up a field goal of less than 50 yards and on second down with four seconds left the Redskins lined up for a Hail Mary. A delay-of-game penalty pushed Washington even farther away and Banks' bomb was batted down.
Prior to that two-minute drill Washington posted just two first downs, both on scrambles by Banks. Early in the first half the Redskins failed to convert third downs of 2 and 1 yards; later, a dropped pass by Davis, a false start by tackle Jon Jansen and a sack by Cowboys defensive tackle Brandon Noble undercut drives.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, opened with two powerful drives. The first went nine plays and 68 yards and ended in a 5-yard touchdown run by Smith. The second went 17 plays and 62 yards consuming more than 10 minutes but finished without points when Jon Hilbert's 44-yard field goal attempt flew wide left.

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