- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

ARLINGTON, Texas

For more than 57 minutes Sunday, the Washington Redskins shut out the high-octane offense of the Dallas Cowboys.

For nearly 106 minutes from late in the first quarter Nov. 15 at home against the Denver Broncos until late in the fourth quarter at Cowboys Stadium, London Fletcher and Co. held a pair of division leaders to just three total points.

And Sunday, the defense was without its most dominant player, All-Pro tackle Albert Haynesworth, who was inactive with a sprained ankle.

The Cowboys had Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Marion Barber, Flozell Adams and Andre Gurode - Pro Bowl selections all - but they couldn’t score. With an interception and a forced fumble that saved a certain three points and quite likely seven, Fletcher had done more than all the guys on offense with stars on their helmets.

And yet when rookie linebacker Brian Orakpo couldn’t bring down scrambling quarterback Romo and backup receiver Patrick Crayton got free in the middle of the end zone for the 10-yard catch with 2:41 left, the agonizing season for the defense continued.

“Forty-eight [minutes] or 57 [minutes], we’ve got to play the whole 60 minutes,” said linebacker Rocky McIntosh, who dropped an early interception.

In a lost season in which the Redskins enabled lightweights Detroit and Kansas City to snap long losing streaks, this defeat hurt more.

“This one’s a little harder because we had it and we let it slip,” defensive end Phillip Daniels said. “I felt good the whole game when we were winning. It’s been a tough year, but it would’ve meant a lot to beat the Cowboys on the road.”

Added Washington coach Jim Zorn, “It’s just a heart-yank for our players.”

Particularly for middle linebacker Fletcher, who has yet to go to the Pro Bowl despite leading the NFL in tackles the past decade.

“We deserved to win this game,” said Fletcher, whose 13 stops Sunday were five more than anyone else on the field. “We have the pieces in place to play games like this. Our coaching staff does a great job of preparing us. We knew the Cowboys very well. The game plan was very good. We executed the game plan well.”

Fletcher mistimed his jump on a ball tipped by defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery in Dallas territory on the first series.

He ended the Cowboys’ second possession by knocking the ball from Barber at the Washington 11, turning a Dallas first down into Washington ball when cornerback DeAngelo Hall recovered.

“They had the run game going pretty good at that point,” Fletcher said. “After that, we played the run pretty well.”

And when the Cowboys, trailing 6-0, went for it on fourth-and-2 at the Washington 39 with 12:08 remaining, Fletcher intercepted Romo’s pass off the hands of Dallas receiver Miles Austin.

“That will make my night a little bit better,” said Fletcher, still kicking himself for the early drop.

“There’s times, especially after losses, where you think long and hard about everything because you put so much into it [during the week] and everything’s predicated on Sunday,” Fletcher added. “When you come up short, Sunday night is very long, Monday’s very long, Tuesday’s long, thinking about what you could have done differently. But I like our team, the fight in us. I like the approach that the guys take. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re going to show up next Sunday ready to play.”

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