- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

Gregg Williams and Co. were out of excuses yesterday. While Al Saunders’ offense was minus Pro Bowl receiver Santana Moss, Williams had all 11 starters in the lineup for the first time in more than a year. His defense had two weeks to prepare for the Cowboys. And Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was making just his second career start.

The game couldn’t have started better as Lemar Marshall stuffed Julius Jones for a safety on the first play for the defense, which followed by sending the Cowboys back to the bench with a three-and-out on the next series.

At that point, the Monday Morning Quarterback was feeling pretty smug. Obviously, the injuries that had sidelined Shawn Springs, Cornelius Griffin, Joe Salave’a, Carlos Rogers and Marshall had been the problem all along. The defense was back to its top 10 from the past two seasons.

Almost three hours later, the Monday Morning Quarterback was shaking his head at what seemed sure to be another blown game in a lost season for the boys in burgundy and gold. But then, the defense’s newest member, Troy Vincent, swooped in, and with some help from Sean Taylor, Nick Novak and the Cowboys’ Kyle Kosier, all was right in Redskinsland. At least for the next week.

Q: I’m still speechless this morning from yelling in anger and then screaming for joy. That was an amazing roller coaster of emotion in the final minute. Have you experienced anything like that before yesterday?

A: How soon they forget. How about turning a 13-0 deficit last year in Dallas into a stunning 14-13 victory? And doesn’t your memory go back as far as 1992, when Jason Buck sacked Troy Aikman, the ball went flying back into the end zone and Danny Copeland emerged with it from the scrum to shock the eventual Super Bowl champions in Joe Gibbs’ final game at RFK Stadium?

Q: Did replacing Adam Archuleta with Vincent make that much difference for the defense?

A: No. The defense couldn’t get off the field on third down, as has been the case all year. In fact, yesterday’s six stops on 16 chances were its worst performance to date. But at least Vincent wasn’t burned downfield as Archuleta was again in the final minute, setting up what would have been the game-winning field goal if not for Vincent’s block.

Q: How did Batman and Robin, Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers, play in their first start together since the playoffs?

A: Springs was solid for the most part but was beaten by Terrell Owens on a slant for a score. Rogers joined Taylor in getting whipped by Terry Glenn for another touchdown.

Q: Speaking of T.O., what was the scoop with the showboat dropping a bomb from Romo?

A: T.O. let his young passer down a couple of times, but spoofing his own problem of sleeping in meetings by pretending to nap on the ball in the end zone was hilarious.

Q: What was Bill Parcells thinking by going for two early in the second quarter with a 6-5 lead?

A: Tuna said his chart told him to. And Miss Cleo must have told him not to challenge the safety call when it seemed Jones had gotten out of the end zone before Marshall completed the tackle on the Cowboys’ first play.

Q: Time to talk offense. How did that side of the ball fare without Moss?

A: So-so. Chris Cooley, Brandon Lloyd, James Thrash, Mike Sellers and Ladell Betts all made plays, but Antwaan Randle El was invisible. Mark Brunell doesn’t have a Moss-like chemistry with any of them save possibly Cooley, who had a tumbling touchdown catch but also dropped a couple of passes. And not having to worry about Moss allowed the Cowboys to focus more on stopping the run. Clinton Portis had a measly 46 yards on 22 carries, not including his 38-yard touchdown scamper.

Q: Does winning take some of the pressure off Brunell?

A: Winning takes the pressure off everyone, at least until Sunday in Philadelphia. Gibbs isn’t going to change quarterbacks until the Redskins totally fall out of contention. That eventuality now has been delayed until late November at the earliest.

Q: So what happens at the Linc? The Eagles have lost three straight, just as the Redskins had before yesterday, and they looked pretty bad last Sunday against a Jacksonville team with a backup quarterback.

A: Yes, but the Eagles are 7-0 after byes under Andy Reid, and the red-hot Redskins had to rally to beat a Philadelphia team playing out the string last New Year’s Day. Never assume Washington will win in Philadelphia.

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