- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

They thought they already reached the low point the last time they faced the Dallas Cowboys.

They thought wrong.

This was worse. Much, much worse.

Seeking to exact revenge from a humiliating loss at Texas Stadium six weeks ago, the Washington Redskins went out yesterday and laid an even bigger egg. Their 27-0 showing against the Cowboys was as devastating a loss as they have endured all season.

Based on the snowballs emerging from the handful of the 70,824 still hanging around FedEx Field in the fourth quarter, this might have been Washington’s worst loss in several seasons.

“They probably should have thrown a glacier out there,” cornerback Fred Smoot said. “We stunk. We stunk the place up.”

Out to avenge their earlier 21-14 loss to the Cowboys (9-5) and deal a severe blow to their longtime rivals’ playoff hopes, the Redskins (5-9) failed on all counts. They committed six turnovers (four on Tim Hasselbeck interceptions), gave up 222 yards on the ground, completed only seven passes for 59 yards and never had a chance in the freezing drizzle.

In suffering their first home shutout since a 3-0 loss to the Jets on Dec.11, 1993, the Redskins were officially eliminated from the NFC playoff race, though that was conceded weeks ago. They also secured their second straight losing season.

“I’m not very good at making excuses,” said coach Steve Spurrier, who fell to 2-9 against division opponents. “They just kicked our tails. They’re a better team than we are right now.”

Afterward, the reactions inside Washington’s locker room ranged from outrage to dejection.

“We had over half the team go out there and lay it on the line. The other half, I don’t have too much to say to them,” Smoot said. “I’m not a quitter. I don’t ever quit. We went out there and got embarrassed.”

Smoot insisted he wasn’t referring to a division between offense and defense, but it would not have been inappropriate. The Redskins offense, in particular the passing game, was nonexistent against Dallas’ top-ranked defense.

Washington never made it into the red zone and only seriously threatened to score once, reaching the Dallas 27 midway through the second quarter. The drive fizzled there when Hasselbeck served up his second interception.

“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t fall your way, and that’s what happened to us today,” said receiver Laveranues Coles, who was held without a catch. “We had a game plan. Our offense didn’t execute, and we came away with nothing.”

One week after a highly efficient performance in the cold at the Meadowlands, Hasselbeck struggled through a disastrous game. Seemingly unable to put any zip on the wet ball, he completed six of 26 passes for 56 yards and was tagged with a quarterback rating of 0.0.

“It’s not a real good answer, but I think that there are going to be bad nights,” Hasselbeck said. “I had a bad night tonight.”

From the opening kickoff, Dallas was in control. The Cowboys marched 74 yards on the game’s first drive, taking a 7-0 lead on Quincy Carter’s 21-yard screen pass to fullback Richie Anderson.

The seven-point lead might as well have been 35 because the Redskins showed little reason to believe they were going to score.

They ran only eight offensive plays in the first quarter, picking up one first down. They turned the ball over all three times they had it in the second quarter, wasting a perfectly executed fake punt by Bryan Barker. They recorded their only first down of the third quarter with 18 seconds to go and then gave the ball right back to Dallas on cornerback Terence Newman’s third interception of the game. And they looked just as inept in garbage time, seemingly counting down the final minutes along with anyone still left at the stadium.

“Give Dallas’ defense credit: They’re No.1 in the league, and they played like it,” said Spurrier, who suffered his first regular-season shutout since he coached Duke to a 7-0 loss to Rutgers on Oct.3, 1987.

Ahead from the beginning, the Cowboys turned to their run game early and never let up. Troy Hambrick, who has been mostly average since replacing Emmitt Smith as Dallas’ starting tailback, ran around and through Washington’s porous defense. His 189 yards on 33 carries represented a career-high and was the third-best game in franchise history behind only legends Smith and Tony Dorsett.

“I don’t belong in the same breath as Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett, but I am there,” Hambrick said. “You can write it in stone.”

You also can write this in stone: The Redskins have beaten the Cowboys, their most-despised rivals, just once in their last 13 meetings.

“I don’t care if we came in here 1-10, that’s Dallas, and I hate them, man. And then they beat us like this,” Smoot said. “It’s just embarrassing. I’m embarrassed for the people of D.C. I’m embarrassed for everybody that’s a Redskins fan.”

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