- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

IRVING, Texas.— Well, the Redskins lost to Georgia yesterday. I mean to the Cowboys, who are to the Redskins what the Georgia Bulldogs were to Steve Spurrier's Florida Gators. At least, that's the way Spurrier saw it last spring, when he was new to this pitchin' and catchin' for pay business.
"Hopefully," he said, "the Cowboys will be our Georgia."
Maybe now the Ball Coach understands the difference between the two rivalries. After all, the Gators usually have their way with the Bulldogs. The Redskins, on the other hand, always lose to the Cowboys. Or rather, they have since November '97. Ten straight times they've gone down to defeat, the longest such streak in the NFL.
Yesterday's 27-20 disaster was as improbable as any of them. The Redskins' struggling kicker, James Tuthill, not only had a field goal blocked, he also missed an extra point. Then, while dealing with all this angst, he had to take over the punting chores after Bryan Barker got his nose split open. You can pretty much guess how that went. One line-drive boot by Tuthill was returned 30 yards. Another attempt skittered off the side of his foot and went out of bounds at the Washington 43, setting up the last Dallas score.
Then more injuries began to pile up to Jeremiah Trotter, to Dan Wilkinson, to David Terrell. Such are the hazards of playing the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving. (If man were meant to play football on four days' rest, God wouldn't have invented Bye Week.)
But then, it's always something against the Cowboys. If the punter doesn't get hurt, then Stephen Davis fumbles when the Redskins are trying to run out the clock which is what happened the last time the Redskins were here. It's getting eerie, this Dallas domination.
"Absolutely amazing," Wilkinson said of The Streak. "It's sickening. Our fans deserve more, and we haven't been able to deliver for them, not since I became a Redskin."
And Big Daddy joined the club midway through the Harding administration. Or rather, it seems like it.
Early in the third quarter, after Danny Wuerffel threw his third touchdown pass of the day to give the Redskins a 20-10 lead, I scribbled on my notepad, "The only way they can lose now is if they give it away. The Cowboys can't win this game by themselves."
It looked like Spurrier was going to be able to give Dan Snyder his long-awaited game ball from his first victory over Dallas. The offense had driven down the field for three consecutive touchdowns at that point excluding a couple of plays at the end of the first half and the defense was chasing young Chad Hutchinson all over Texas Stadium. One more score, you figured, and the Cowboys were cooked.
But then a Wuerffel pass from the end zone went through Kenny Watson's hands and got picked off for a TD, and everything changed. Spurrier's offense hardly got a first down after that, and the defense couldn't stop anything. Hutchinson threw, Joey Galloway caught, Emmitt Smith ran. It was, as Wilkinson said, absolutely amazing.
What was even more amazing was that Dallas was running the ball with a depleted offensive line. The Cowboys already were without Larry Allen, their perennial Pro Bowler, and before the afternoon was over they lost Flozell Adams and Andre Gurode, too. Remember Ross Tucker, who got cut early in the season by the Redskins? He's the Cowboys' left guard now.
But Dallas never fails to run the ball against the Redskins, does it? Last year the Cowboys won at FedEx Field by throwing 14 passes and rushing for 215 yards. And yesterday they rushed for 211 144 by the ageless Emmitt. (Stephen Davis, meanwhile, managed just 51 yards in 20 tries, and only eight of his yards came after halftime. Once again, the Fun'n'Gun made little headway in the second half.)
Twelve games and seven losses into the Spurrier Era, we're still waiting for his celebrated offense to make a play in the late going when it really matters. In none of the Redskins' wins have they come from behind in the fourth quarter, and they've certainly had ample opportunity in recent weeks (at New York, and again yesterday). Is it the play calling? The personnel? Or perhaps some combination of the two?
At any rate, instead of having a 10-day break to feel good about themselves and assess their playoff chances, the Redskins face the prospect of their season being all but over depending on the outcome of this weekend's games. It's going to take a miracle for them to make the postseason now, and being banged up won't help.
As for this spell the Cowboys appear to have over them, someday it will be broken, but yesterday wasn't that day. A sign hanging in the stands put the situation perfectly in perspective: "Daniel Snyder purchased the Redskins, but the Cowboys own them."


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