- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

IRVING, Texas It all unfolded so predictably, given the Washington Redskins' dreadful recent history in this series.

The Redskins offense went from high gear to reverse. The defense lay down before running back Emmitt Smith. And all the big plays at all the key moments went the Dallas Cowboys' way.

In the end it was Washington's 10th straight loss to its archrival and a fairly decent replica of previous defeats in the NFL's longest current streak between any two teams. The Redskins fell apart with the game under control, allowing the Cowboys to rally from a 10-point third-quarter deficit for a 27-20 victory before 63,606 at Texas Stadium.

The loss dropped the Redskins to 0-6 on Thanksgiving Day and basically ended the club's lingering playoff hopes. Washington (5-7) rose up to defeat the streaking St. Louis Rams last week but couldn't put away the far less talented and injury-plagued Cowboys (5-7).

"This was a game we felt we had to win," defensive end Renaldo Wynn lamented. "We felt that there was no way we could come in here and lose this game."

Two plays turned the game in the second half: a bobbled pass by Redskins running back Kenny Watson into the hands of Dallas safety Roy Williams, who ran in an easy 5-yard touchdown, and a 41-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Joey Galloway, which put the Cowboys up for good.

And the Redskins undercut their effort with a blocked field goal and a missed extra point errors they were able to overcome against the Rams but not yesterday.

"It seems like every time we play them, they make big plays, and we don't make any," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "That's the way it's been the last couple of years."

Washington also exited the game with a number of significant injuries, the most significant being a potential season-ending knee sprain to linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.

In addition, punter Bryan Barker suffered an open nasal fracture that required him to stay behind at Baylor Medical Center, defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson tore his right calf and linebacker Jessie Armstead suffered a potentially serious bruised left knee.

Quarterback Danny Wuerffel guided an offense of tremendous inconsistency. He bounced back from a pair of early interceptions to throw three touchdown passes but couldn't generate any yardage in the closing stretch. The Redskins offense finished with 315 yards but 276 of those came in the first three quarters.

"We had some good drives, we had some bad drives," Watson said. "Sometimes when we needed the big plays we couldn't come up with them."

The Redskins defense played well early, but the offense blew three first-quarter scoring opportunities. Washington then fell behind 7-0 on a 29-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Bryant 1½ minutes into the second period.

The Redskins' early drives advanced to the Cowboys 31, 43 and 17 but ended in a pair of interceptions by Wuerffel and a blocked field goal. The block, up the middle by tackle Flozell Adams, put Dallas at midfield on the first play of the second quarter and set up Bryant's touchdown.

It was Washington's second blocked field goal in the past three games, following one in the Nov. 17 loss to the New York Giants. The block at New York occurred in sloppy conditions when Tuthill slipped on a chance to retake the lead with 3:11 remaining.

Yesterday's block didn't come at as crucial a time, but the points were costly and Barker's nose was broken when he recovered the ball. Williams injured Barker by running into him hard. Three plays later, on a run by Troy Hambrick, Trotter's sprained his knee.

The Redskins responded, though, with a 72-yard touchdown drive. Wide receiver Rod Gardner dominated with three receptions for 61 yards, including the 40-yard score against cornerback Derek Ross. Ross, a 5-foot-10 rookie, failed to get position on the 6-2 Gardner, and Wuerffel's pass floated high into Gardner's hands.

Dallas went back up 10-7 with 5:36 left before halftime. Powerful running by Smith (two rushes for 29 yards) and speedy third-down carries by Michael Wiley (two for 31) set up a 21-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff. Wiley, in fact, nearly scored on a third-and-goal draw from the 17 but was taken down at the 2 by cornerback Rashad Bauman.

A pass-heavy drive quickly pushed the Redskins ahead. Spurrier called six throws, including a 16-yard touchdown to tight end Zeron Flemister, on an eight-play drive to go ahead 14-10 with 1:55 to go before intermission. It was Flemister's second score of the season.

The passing kept coming after halftime as Washington opened with a 63-yard scoring drive. Thompson caught three balls for 56 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown. Wuerffel faked a handoff to Stephen Davis on the score, rolled right and threw to Derrius Thompson, who was open deep in the end zone.

Tuthill, however, missed the extra point when quarterback Shane Matthews, holding for Barker, put the laces toward the kicker. It was Washington's second missed extra point in as many games, and the Redskins' lead was just 20-10.

Washington forced a punt on Dallas' next possession, but Filip Filipovic dropped it perfectly inside the Redskins 5. Watson then bobbled a third-and-12 pass into the hands of Williams, who ran in Wuerffel's third interception for an easy 5-yard touchdown. The Cowboys' deficit was cut to 20-17 with 8:53 left in the third quarter.

Galloway's touchdown came about 14 minutes later, after Dallas contentedly played a game of field position against the Redskins, whose offense was struggling and whose punter was Tuthill. The Redskins went three-and-out after Galloway made it 24-20, and Tuthill punted just 18 yards to set up a late Cowboys field goal.


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