- The Washington Times - Friday, November 29, 2002

IRVING, Texas Through the first series of the third quarter yesterday at Texas Stadium, Washington's offense was purring like a new sports car. Quarterback Danny Wuerffel had completed 16 of 21 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Stephen Davis was averaging 3.9 yards per carry. And most important, the Redskins had a 20-10 lead over the Dallas Cowboys.
It seemed as if the record nine-game losing streak to the hated Cowboys would end.
Guess again.
As soon as Wuerffel's safety valve pass bounced off backup running back Kenny Watson's hands and into those of Cowboys safety Roy Williams for an easy touchdown, it was as if the offense were a leaky balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
"That was a turning point for us," Wuerffel said. "You try to play smart. It was a great play for that coverage, but we just didn't execute. Kenny's a great receiver, but we all make mistakes."
Washington managed just 22 yards and a lone first down on its next four series as Dallas pulled ahead for the 27-20 victory.
"We started, but we didn't finish," said Davis, who managed just 8 yards on nine carries in the second half. We didn't do what it takes to win. We made too many mistakes. It's not a mental [block against Dallas]. We just didn't play as a team. We have to run right at 'em instead of running outside and then when we did run right at 'em, they knew it was coming. Their game plan was better than ours."
Davis wasn't alone in failing to produce after halftime. Wuerffel connected on just five of 15 passes for 33 yards after that first drive of the third quarter, the third straight possession that ended in a Cowboys touchdown, not counting when they ran the clock out at the end of the first half.
"We had the momentum, but we didn't execute in the second half," said receiver Rod Gardner, who caught the first of Wuerffel's touchdown passes.
And yet Washington still had a great chance to force overtime with second-and-1 at the Dallas 34 with 3:56 remaining. Wuerffel's second-down pass for Gardner was almost intercepted by Cowboys cornerback Derek Ross. Wuerffel came up short on a third-down sneak and then Davis was stuffed by Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover on fourth down,
The ball went over to the Cowboys and the Redskins didn't get it back until there were just 44 seconds left and they were at their own 16.
"I should have got it," Davis said. "I put that on my shoulders. On fourth-and-1, I've got to go get it."
Wuerffel, making his second straight start, blamed himself, too.
"I had a couple of chances early to make plays that could have really helped us, and I didn't and in the end it turned out to hurt us," he said of his first-quarter passes in Dallas territory that were picked off by Ross and fellow cornerback Mario Edwards.
"Danny played pretty well most of the time," coach Steve Spurrier said.
Spurrier first said that Wuerffel probably would start the next game Dec.8 against the New York Giants but then said he would consider going back to rookie Patrick Ramsey, who was a turnover machine in his October starts against New Orleans and Green Bay.
"When you turn the ball over, it's supposed to be a blowout [loss]," said frustrated defensive end Bruce Smith.


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