- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A poor start, a blase finish and absolutely no support from the other side of the ball doomed the Washington Redskins’ run defense to a rough day.

Running back Troy Hambrick carried 33 times for 189 yards, the third-most rushing yardage by a back in Dallas Cowboys history. Only Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith had bigger games. Hambrick averaged 5.4 yards a carry against Washington this season; against the rest of the league, he gets 3.1 yards a carry.

Overall, the Cowboys finished with 222 rushing yards after posting 208 in the first meeting this year.

The performance doesn’t help embattled defensive coordinator George Edwards, whose job has been under scrutiny for weeks. But coach Steve Spurrier absorbed a healthy amount of blame when he was asked why the run defense caved.

“We made them play just about the whole night,” Spurrier said. “When we make a [defensive] stop, we’d have an interception, turnover. We couldn’t stay out there and help our defense out like we did a little bit last week [in a win over the New York Giants]. … We forced the defense to play about the whole game, it seemed like.”

Still, the run defense needed to be better in poor conditions that made passing extremely difficult. The Cowboys enjoyed runs of 12 and 15 yards and screen passes of 8 and 21 yards (the latter a touchdown by fullback Richie Anderson) on their opening drive. Dallas capped the game with 94 rushing yards in the fourth quarter.

“Except for a few big plays, I thought we did all right,” nose tackle Lional Dalton said. “We were out there 70-some plays [72 to be exact]. That’s a lot for a defense. Eventually they’re going to make a few big plays.”

Coles shut out

Any chance Redskins receiver Laveranues Coles had of being chosen for his first Pro Bowl disappeared in the slop in Landover.

After catching 69 passes for 1,023 yards through 12 games, Coles was shut out yesterday by the Cowboys’ top-ranked defense. Coles hadn’t caught fewer than three passes in any game this year and had at least 55 yards in all but two games. His previous low yardage was 27 in the Nov.2 loss in Dallas.

Even though Tim Hasselbeck had an ugly day for the ages — 6-for-26, 56 yards and four interceptions — Coles refused to blame the inexperienced quarterback for his woes.

“We all played our part in this loss,” said Coles, who was shut out for the first time since the second week of last season with the New York Jets. “I wouldn’t point the finger at anybody. I didn’t make any plays today. My teammates depend on me to make plays to get this offense going and I didn’t do it. If I have to blame anybody, I blame myself.”

Coles trailed only Pro Bowl locks Torry Holt of St. Louis and Randy Moss of Minnesota as well as Arizona rookie Anquan Boldin in the NFC yardage race and was seventh in catches. But the fourth-year veteran isn’t worried about losing out on a possible trip to Hawaii.

“It’s a popularity contest,” Coles said. “If I go, I go. If I don’t, I don’t. I don’t plan on retiring anytime soon so I’m pretty sure I have plenty more years I’ll be able to make it if I don’t make it this year.”

Morton’s muff

Sick with the flu all week, Chad Morton was healthy enough to play yesterday.

He still coughed up the ball, though.

Morton muffed an easy punt return in the first quarter, taking the ball off his facemask. Dallas’ Pete Hunter pounced on the ball at the Washington 41, leaving Morton with a lost look on his face.

“[The punt] was so short that I just tried to get it and go,” he said. “But you have to catch the ball before you can run.”

In line to start at tailback earlier in the week, Morton came down with the flu for the second time in as many weeks. He did not practice all week, and lost the starting job to Rock Cartwright. Coach Steve Spurrier felt Morton was healthy enough to suit up and return kicks, though.

“He was sick during the week, but he was fine yesterday and today,” Spurrier said. “He was OK to play.”

Morton carried the ball three times for 11 yards. He returned one punt for no gain, called for a fair catch three other times and returned three kickoffs for an 18.7-yard average.

Rock rolls

Injuries to Trung Canidate (sprained foot) and Ladell Betts (bruised forearm) and Chad Morton’s case of the flu left Rock Cartwright to start at halfback for the first time in his two-year Redskins career.

The 5-foot-7, 223-pound bowling ball churned out 94 yards on 21 carries against Dallas’ sixth-rated run defense.

“I did pretty well, but I’m pretty sure that when Trung and Ladell get back healthy, they’ll be the guys and I’ll go back to my fullback duties,” Cartwright said.

Cartwright had his solid day the old-fashioned way, pounding away for 4 and 5 yards a crack. Only three of his 21 runs went for as many as 7 yards. But Cartwright kept spinning and powering for every inch behind a line that included backups Derrick Dockery and Lennie Friedman and newly signed third-stringer Daryl Terrell.

“Rock did what he always does, run hard and make plays,” tight end Zeron Flemister said. “The way he runs north and south makes my job easier. And Rock’s passion for the game is great. He’s always yelling on the sidelines to get people up.”

Cartwright wished coach Steve Spurrier called his number more often. After gaining 77 yards on 15 carries in the first half, he saw the ball only twice until the Redskins trailed 27-0 and just 4:05 remained.

“I know we were going to have to throw the ball down 14-0 going into the half, but I didn’t think we would throw it as much,” said Cartwright, now second on the team in yards (327) and carries (82), a 4.0 average.

“Rock ran hard,” Spurrier said. “Looking back, we should have run more probably.”

Winey, Bowen injured

Brandon Winey, making his third straight start at left tackle in place of Pro Bowler Chris Samuels, suffered a right knee injury in the second quarter and missed the second half.

Winey, who has earned high praise for his performances off the bench, was injured on Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman’s second interception of the day. He returned for the Redskins’ next offensive series, but deferred to recently signed veteran Daryl Terrell in the second half.

Safety Matt Bowen also suffered a right knee injury, though he missed only a couple of plays in the second half before returning to finish the game.

Both players will be evaluated at Redskin Park today.

Tyer to Ring

The Redskins made one of the organization’s fixtures for the past three decades a permanent part of FedEx Field, inducting trainer Bubba Tyer into the Ring of Fame during a pregame ceremony.

Tyer, the longtime trainer who retired in training camp after 32 years with the Redskins, became the 41st member of the Ring and the fifth enshrined since the move to FedEx Field in 1997.

In an interview before the game, he admitted the significance of being inducted didn’t strike him fully until he started getting so many congratulations from friends around the league.

“I did think it’s quite an honor, but it’s growing in what I thought it was,” Tyer said. “So many people have called and congratulated me, and so many people have patted me on the back. It’s really made me feel good.”

Inactives

The Redskins’ inactives were running back Sultan McCullough, running back Trung Canidate, safety Andre Lott, running back Ladell Betts, linebacker Clifton Smith, tackle Chris Samuels, tight end Byron Chamberlain and wide receiver Taylor Jacobs. The team did not designate a third quarterback.

David Elfin, Jody Foldesy, Mark Zuckerman


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