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The Best Part. . .

Sep 21, 2005, 12:34 PM EDT

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The best part about it was that there were so many best parts about it. It was Dallas, in Dallas, on a Monday night. All Redskins fans have had to put up with so much from the Dallas fans who always seemed to crawl out from everywhere after yet another loss to the Cowboys. It was the stunning, unexpected nature of it after such a listless offensive effort for 55 minutes. It all combined together to make for a day that provided more spontaneous smiling by Redskins fans than any since the few giddy days after Joe Gibbs came back as coach.

And that was one other great part about it–Gibbs’ reaction. The mild-mannered coach’s most demonstrative expression of emotion generally is to break into a broad smile and to look for others to congratulate as he did after each of the Redskins’ Super Bowl wins. Not this time; after this game ended, it was party time:

That’s Gibbs on the left, after the Gatorade bucket bath and after he jumped up into the air and brought his knees to his chest. He celebrated with everyone he could find to celebrate with and then went in and called the win one of his greatest moments in sports, this from a man who has lifted the aforementioned three Lombardi Trophies and a couple of Winston Cups.

Gibbs had stuck his neck out in making one of the quickest quarterback changes in history. Well before that, in March, he had stuck his neck out even more by trading away Laveranues Coles for Santana Moss, taking a huge salary cap hit in the process. After the game, John Madden revealed that Gibbs had said that he felt like the Cowboys were treating the Redskins like a homecoming opponent, what with the scheduling of the Ring of Whatever ceremonies for the night of the game. His offense, his specialty, was, at its better moments, sputtering.

You can agree or disagree about the QB move and the long-term effectiveness of the offense, but you have to agree that nobody in sports has earned a moment of sheer joy more than Joe Jackson Gibbs.

Predictions Recap

Not bad, not bad at all in the end. I did say that the team employing the running back between Julius Jones and Clinton Portis that had the better night would prevail. Jones did outgain Portis on the ground 81 yards to 52 but Portis picked up another 25 in receptions so their output was pretty even. As was the score and the bottom line here was:

Last year the policy in this space was that there would never again be a prediction that the Redskins would beat the Cowboys until such time that the Redskins actually did beat them. But, keeping with the theme here that what’s in the past is irrelevant, the final will be:
Washington 17, Dallas 16

After I posted this prediction, I received a number of emails from some who evidently were Dallas fans who were questioning my football knowledge, my sanity and/or possible intake of banned substances. The following was typical:

In accordance to your final score prediction to monday nights game……..don’t count your chickens before they hatch bubba.

In reply, I didn’t bother telling him that examining things that haven’t hatched yet is the very nature of a prediction. Some concepts are way to difficult for room-temperature IQ Dallas fans to grasp. As I did with the other emailers of his ilk, I just told him to enjoy the game and come back around and share his razor-sharp insights after the game. I have yet to hear from him or any of them.

  1. Doug - Sep 21, 2005 at 12:52 PM

    Rich,

    Great prediction, great result! Hail to the Redskins, and Joe Gibbs!

    It appears to me that Mark Brunell is gradually getting some timing down with his receivers after not working with the first team at any time during spring training, training camp and pre-season. This should work itself out as the season progresses.

    The very best play, aside from the obvious bombs to Moss, was the conversion of the 4th and 2 to James Thrash on the all out Cowboys’ blitz. That is a play we haven’t hit much, and speaks well of both Thrash and Brunell. That is the way to handle the blitz.

    What should come out of this is that the running game will open up now that the pass must be respected.

    I see us continuing to improve offensively as the season progresses. The defense is already superb. We do need to eliminate turnovers and penalties. If we do that, we will be a tough team to beat indeed!

  2. Kounter Trey - Sep 21, 2005 at 1:25 PM

    The two bombs showed me a couple of things: (1) Brunell is not the rag-armed QB we saw last year, who couldn’t throw anything farther than 20 yards. I’m not saying he’s got a cannon, but I think last year it was clear he couldn’t throw for any kind of distance AT ALL. (2) I can’t imagine that the Lav Coles we saw last year would’ve held on to both bombs. He–and the team in general–seemed to have a knack for dropping everything that really, really needed to be caught.

  3. mbarnes202 - Sep 21, 2005 at 3:19 PM

    Well,
    Pretty right on target. What’s impressive about the win was the defense– we overcame two turnovers, lousy field position, 12 or so penalties, enormous disparity on time of possession, and a great game plan (for the most part) by the Cowboys, and still held them to 13 points, at home, despite giving up the flea-flicker (Parcells seems to have one of those every time we play them, and it always works PERFECTLY).
    Now, the flip side is we generated ZERO sacks and minimal pressure on Bledsoe with our front four, although obviously rushing only four was partly by design after the 1st quarter when it was apparent that the Cowboys would do everything to prevent a disruption in their passing game- 3-step drops, roll-outs, and max-protects. Secondly, we generated ZERO turnovers. I mean, it’s amazing we held them to 13 given those shortcomings ON DEFENSE.
    As to the offense, imagine what we’d all be saying if we didn’t score that last TD, and lost, or if the Cowboys had made their earlier missed field goal, and we lossed 16-14– we’d all be saying how horrible the offense played. So, we have a lot of work still to do. In my mind, we may be stuck like this for the rest of the season– Gibbs has lived through a horrible 6-10 season, and made all the changes he felt necessary during the offseason, and we’re STILL an offense that is generally 3-yards and a cloud of dust. We are what we are– why would he change now? He would argue he HAS changed– but to most observers, and most likely statistically, it will be below average.
    The question will be whether this win is a catalyst for improved confidence by our offense– in the same way LaVar’s INT returned for a TD against Carolina during Schottenheimer’s reign. If it is, and we go out there and hit some big shots, keep the defense worried about Moss, and pound the ball with Portis, we could do pretty well, but the pessimist says we’re still way too predictable on offense, and teams will simply jump all of the underneath routes, blitz us like crazy, and key off of Portis on every play.
    The same optimistic feelings we all have after the win, though, is almost certainly also felt by the offense– and that confidence can do absolute wonders for their effectiveness. Here’s hoping it carries over against the Seahwaks.

  4. Kounter Trey - Sep 21, 2005 at 7:19 PM

    Another play that never would’ve worked in recent years: after Brunell’s 25-yd scramble, he hit Thrash on a screen for 20 yards. You just know we would’ve blown that play last year, the year before, and the year before that.

    The fact that we were able to do ANYTHING positive in response to a blitz–let alone it being a big pickup–means a lot, imho.

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