- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2001

Beating the Dallas Cowboys wouldn't be personal payback for Washington Redskins quarterback Tony Banks. Leading the Redskins to the playoffs while the team that cut him finishes last would be a sweeter revenge.

Banks gets a second chance to exact damage on his former team Sunday at FedEx Field.

On Oct. 15, Banks and the Redskins lost to the Cowboys 9-7 in Dallas. Banks completed a respectable 10 of 18 passes for 132 yards and one touchdown, but a fumble by running back Stephen Davis let the Cowboys win on a last-second field goal.

"I was [pressing] a little too much the last time we played them," Banks said. "It was like playing your buddies in the neighborhood. A couple expressed they wished I was still there, which made me feel good."

Banks is trying not to make it personal, but the mere mention of the fact that the Cowboys have started four quarterbacks this season evokes a large smile. His Thanksgiving dinner certainly wasn't ruined by watching Dallas lose to Denver.

Proving he's a legit NFL starter after four stops in six years is more important to Banks than beating the Cowboys. He has moved past trying to show the Cowboys they were wrong.

"If I take that kind of attitude into a game like this then I set up our team to lose," he said. "If I play the way I've been playing, we'll put ourselves in a position to win. I think we're a different team now [than the first meeting]. That was the starting point."

Washington (5-5) is 5-0 since losing to the Cowboys, while Dallas (2-8) has lost four straight. The locker room is abuzz with talk of ending the Redskins' eight-game losing streak to the Cowboys. The offense has improved greatly since the first meeting, and the Redskins want to prove themselves against the Cowboys.

"Not only Tony but the whole offense," receiver Michael Westbrook said. "We had the rivalry, no wins and played a mind game with ourselves [in the first game]. We're at a different maturity level now."

Said guard Ben Coleman: "Tony's more prepared now than when we played the first time. He's more seasoned. I think he wants to play well against a team that didn't give him an opportunity."

No matter the outcome, Dallas coach Dave Campo swore that cutting Banks wasn't personal. He said it had more to do with the Cowboys' preference to develop a young passer.

"I think we made the right decision for what we wanted to accomplish [long term]," Campo said. "The tough thing is that [rookie starter] Quincy Carter got hurt. I'm pleased for Tony. As I said right along, it wasn't necessarily about what Tony had done. I felt he would have a chance to be successful in the league."

Campo's decision came partly on Banks' history of spotty play. But Banks has improved steadily in eight starts for Washington with a 73.8 pass rating.

"The thing that has plagued Tony over the years has been the inconsistent play," Campo said. "You get a fumble there, a great throw here, an interception there. You have to give coach [Marty] Schottenheimer and his staff credit for doing with Tony what his strengths are managing the game, don't do a lot of different things but do them efficiently. Let him throw the ball down the field some. He definitely has the skills to make the difficult throws."

Arrington fined

The NFL fined linebacker LaVar Arrington $15,000 for unnecessary roughness against Eagles offensive tackle Tra Thomas in the Redskins' upset victory in Philadelphia on Nov. 25. Thomas was fined $7,500 for spearing Arrington to start the fracas.

"Can you believe that?" Arrington said. "They guy tries to take me out, and I get that."

Arrington was penalized for hitting Thomas' helmet. It was an automatic $15,000 for his third offense after he was also penalized against San Diego ($5,000) and Denver ($10,000).

Thomas blatantly buried his helmet into Arrington when the latter was on the ground away from the play. But referees only saw Arrington's response and flagged him for it.

Extra points

The Philadelphia-Washington game on Dec. 16 at FedEx was moved to 4:15 p.m. … Fullback Donnell Bennett (flu) and guard Matt Campbell (knee) didn't practice. … Tight end Walter Rasby will start Sunday. Pro Bowl player Stephen Alexander is still limited by a high ankle sprain.

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