- The Washington Times - Monday, September 22, 2008

No one would have blamed the folks at FedEx Field for piping in Bachman Turner Overdrive’s classic rock hit Sunday afternoon.

Though overplayed, “Taking Care of Business” is exactly what the Redskins have done the last two Sundays.

After a listless, season-opening road loss to the defending champion New York Giants, the home games against the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals loomed as must-wins if the Redskins had serious intentions of a second-consecutive playoff berth.

That prospect did not look realistic when they trailed by nine points and had second-and-22 at their own 6 in the fourth quarter against the Saints. Nor did it seem reasonable when they punted the ball back to the Cardinals to start the fourth quarter having allowed 17 of the last 24 points.

But Jim Zorn’s Redskins have won the final 15 minutes of the last two games 21-7.

With their other NFC East road tests on tap the next two weeks - at Super Bowl favorite Dallas and powerful Philadelphia - losses to the Saints and/or Cardinals would have left the Redskins in a deep hole no matter how many Rams and Lions remain on the schedule.

Instead, the 29-24 comeback victory over New Orleans and the 24-17 survival of Arizona gave Washington a winning record, a winning streak and confidence heading into the toughest fortnight of 2008.

“To get momentum behind us going into the big game next Sunday is really big,” center Casey Rabach said. “We’ve got two tough games coming up that we’re going have to fight and scratch and claw for.”

The feeling was mutual on the other side of the ball.

“You always gotta take of your house,” defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin said. “[Arizona] was a good team. They can really throw the ball. We stayed together [after losing an early 10-0 lead], and the fourth quarter went our way. Dallas is playing with great confidence and a little swagger. They’re a very talented team. They have a lot of athletes, but we do as well.”

The Redskins can hope the Cowboys will be a little spent after last Monday’s wild, comeback triumph over the Eagles and Sunday night’s visit to Lambeau Field. But the Mark Brunell-to-Santana Moss double-dip finish in 2005 is the only time any of these players have left Texas Stadium with a win. Washington is 1-11 in its last 12 games (9-27 overall) at Dallas.

“We’re confident, but we’re not complacent,” Rabach said. “The Cowboys have a lot of weapons on offense so we know we’re going to have to put some points on the board.”

Indeed, if Dallas won at Green Bay on Sunday night, the NFC East would remain undefeated against the rest of the league, bolstering its reputation as the NFL’s best division. The Redskins were the consensus pick as the worst of the best, but they remain in the mix after the victories over two NFC teams, which will be tiebreakers come playoff calculation time.

Zorn has yet to take part in a Redskins-Cowboys rivalry game - or a Redskins-Eagles slugfest for that matter. But the rookie coach has a pretty good idea of what’s coming.

“I can understand what the Cowboys bring up because of my history with the Raiders [as a quarterback with Seattle],” Zorn said. “We just had to beat them. I believe we’re confident because we’ve won two games, but I’m sure the big headline will be ‘Can they win on the road?’ because we lost our first [road] game.”

That headline’s for next weekend, Coach.

For Monday, the headline should be along the lines of taking care of business because no matter what happens the next two weeks, the Redskins still will be in the race on Columbus Day. That already puts Zorn ahead of what Joe Gibbs (both versions), Richie Petitbon, Norv Turner and Marty Schottenheimer did in their first years in Washington.

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