- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2008

IRVING, Texas | Within seconds of the final horn at Texas Stadium, the final score was erased from the scoreboard.

The Dallas Cowboys only can hope they can erase the result - Redskins 26, Cowboys 24 - as quickly from their memories.

Confidence had been a huge part of the Cowboys’ success in their 3-0 start. But after losing at home and getting thoroughly outplayed, according to coach Wade Phillips, Dallas faces its first potential crisis in that department.

“You hope to go 16-0 in the regular season, but it’s pretty unrealistic,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “From a player’s perspective, we’re usually on a much more even keel because we understand that some days you either make a play or two or you don’t, and it’s disappointing and frustrating when you don’t. We have to come back with a lot to prove.”

Certainly there were questions that arose from Sunday’s defeat, not the least of which is whether the Cowboys were outcoached by the Redskins.

Dallas lost a number of individual physical matchups, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, and also lost a number of strategic ones. And the Cowboys made key mental mistakes that Phillips said go back to him and his staff.

“It’s disappointing,” Phillips said. “We started out good. We got to the quarterback early and moved the ball and scored early. Then it seemed like we relaxed, and you can’t do that.”

Certainly, the Redskins’ defensive scheme left Romo confused and prevented him from hitting Pro Bowl receiver Terrell Owens with the deep ball. And the defense at times seemed in disarray, especially on two key plays.

On a 53-yard completion from Jason Campbell to Santana Moss late in the first half, Phillips said the coaches knew as soon as Moss lined up at the Z position he was going to run a double move and go long. The problem was no one told Terence Newman, who wound up twisted into a pretzel as Moss blew past him. Only an underthrown ball prevented a touchdown, but Washington still took the lead with a field goal.

And as the Redskins tried to run the clock during a fourth-quarter drive that lasted almost seven minutes, the Cowboys kept the drive alive with a penalty for 12 men on the field on a third-and-2. Safety Patrick Watkins took his position after a timeout and was flagged.

“We made the mistake, and it goes back to coaching,” Phillips said. “I can’t understand how two players playing the same position can be standing in there. I just can’t fathom that. They’re standing right next to each other.”

The offense had similar mistakes, with missed blocking assignments forcing Romo to get rid of the ball under pressure on several occasions, but the bigger problems on that side was schematic. Washington abandoned its usual cover-2 zone in favorite of blitzes, heavy pressure against the run and man coverage on the wide receivers. Cornerbacks Shawn Springs and Carlos Rogers played physically on Owens, jamming him at the line and bumping him whenever possible.

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