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Quick Thrill or the Start of Something Big?

Dec 19, 2005, 10:39 PM EDT

You can reach Rich Tandler by email at

Actually, it looks better when it’s served over Tuna:

Right now, still in the glow of spending three hours plus
of being the Dallas Cowboys’ daddy, it is a great win. And there is not a chance
it will ever be anything less than that. It was the Cowboys, it was Parcells, it
was for playoff life, it was at FedEx. That will never change.

As is almost always the case, however, we will need some
perspective to see just how this one stacks up in Redskins history against other
big regular-season games. Should the Redskins go to the playoffs, the game’s
importance will be magnified. If they advance, it will get bigger. If the
Redskins use a playoff run this year as a springboard to elite status in the
NFL, it will become one of those legendary games that everyone remembers and
something like a quarter of a million people will eventually swear they saw in

The Coverage

One of the best parts of a game like this one is reading
the morning papers and the glowing coverage of the local writers. Truth be told,
many of them are lifelong Redskins fans (I won’t name names). But, to a man
they would rather cover a winning team than a losing one and they’d rather be
covering playoff games than starting to write about offseason moves while the
college bowl season is barely underway.

What can be more fun, though, is to read the perspective
from the other side. Nobody can quite kick the Dallas Cowboys when they are down
than the writers and columnists who know them the best. Here are a couple of fun
ones I came across. First, from Jim Reeves of the Ft.
Worth Star-Telegram:

Considering what was at stake, it has to be the most devastating Cowboys’ defeat of the
Parcells’ era. After he spent last week telling us how much he liked these
players, they flat quit on him Sunday.

They soiled their britches

It is fair to wonder whether such a dismal failure in such a huge game will
eventually influence Parcells’ decision to keep coaching beyond this season.

After what we saw Sunday, [the playoffs] might be little more than a pipe dream. A
Michael Irvin under-the-car-seat pipe dream.

The offensive line should have swapped uniforms with the Redskins cheerleaders.
When Torrin Tucker and company weren’t being flagged for false starts and
holding, they were waving pompoms at the Redskins’ defenders as they rushed by.

And from Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News:

Parcells likes his team less today, because the Cowboys quit on him in a rivalry
showdown. When Terry Glenn wasn’t pulling back on a crossing pattern (who
wants to get hit?), then Terence Newman was ducking on a tackle that resulted
in yet another Redskins touchdown (who wants to hit?).

The punter shanked, the field-goal kicker missed and nearly everyone on the
offensive line jumped once. Asked about the false starts afterward, Parcells
shrugged and said, “Hey, it’s always the same guys.”

Centers, guards, tackles. Those same guys.

Parcells glared so much at the offenders that there was concern his face would freeze
that way. And then there was the reigning NFC offensive player of the week:
Had Drew Bledsoe held the ball a little longer, Fox would have had to cut away
for commercial breaks.

That “thump-thump” you just heard was the sound of Cowboys getting thrown under the

It was not quite so enjoyable watching the highlights on ESPN. I’m

not as big a critic of the self-proclaimed “World Wide Leader” as some
are, but their coverage of the Redskins last night bordered on pathetic. On
“NFL Prime Time”, Chris Berman and Tom Jackson were clearly stunned by
the Dallas loss. They said that the Redskins’ ground-based game plan was

Uh, excuse me guys, but Joe Gibbs won a Super Bowl with a ground-based
offense before Bill Parcells ever became an NFL coach. It was Gibbs being

And then on the Sports Center following the Sunday night game, the two
anchors brought it to an even lower level. As the shot of the Redskins’ #53
intercepting a pass and returning it to set up a touchdown filled the screen,
the announcer said, “And then Marcus Williams picks off Bledsoe. .

It’s not as though Marcus Washington is Warrick Holdman or another anonymous
player. He went to the Pro Bowl last year and he’s probably going back again.
This past week he was named the Redskins Player of the Year by the Quarterback
Club. If you pay any attention at all to the Redskins, you know who he is.

But the “World Wide Leader” evidently doesn’t pay much attention to
them. After showing the highlights and Bill Parcells’ comments they showed the
Wild Card standings with the Redskins “out of nowhere” leading for the
second spot.

No, they didn’t come out of nowhere. They have been steadily rising over the
past three weeks. They do have a Hall of Fame coach whose teams rallied to
playoffs spots in the past. They have a few pretty good football players. If you
want to remain the “World Wide Leader” you might want to start paying
some attention.

The Playoff Picture

One route to the playoffs is simple–win and in. If the Redskins win their
remaining two games against the Giants and Eagles, they are in the playoffs.
Should New York win its final game of the season against the Raiders in Oakland,
the Redskins would be a Wild Card. If the Giants lose, they will be the NFC East

There is still the outside possibility of the Redskins getting a first-round
bye (as first talked about
last week) if they win the division. If the Panthers (Dallas, at
Atlanta) and Bears (at Green Bay, at Minnestoa) lose out but still manage to win
their divisions at 10-6 Redskins division winner would be the #2 seed behind
Seattle and they would be off the first week of the playoffs. The would also get
the second seed if the Bucs and Bears win their divisions at 10-6. The Redskins’
conference record, which would be 10-2, would be the key tiebreaker.

It’s also possible that the Redskins could split their next two games–it
wouldn’t matter which one the won and which one they lost–and still get in at
9-7. It would just take Dallas (at Carolina, St. Louis) and Atlanta (at Tampa
Bay, Carolina) and Minnesota (at Baltimore, Chicago) to lose one more

That playoff berth could be like the present that is kind of behind the
Christmas tree and you don’t find it until that night. The Redskins, Cowboys,
and Falcons all play on Saturday and, if things set up right, the Redskins could
clinch on Christmas night if the Ravens beat the Vikings.

  1. Joshua Brown - Dec 20, 2005 at 2:55 AM

    Great post, Rich. I live in Dallas, so I had to endure the Sunday night sports shows where every talking head took at least one shot at the Redskins. My favorite was Dale Hansen’s comment that the Skins defense is better than KC’s, but not that much. I guess 20 spots higher in a 32-league team isn’t that big a gap.

    There seems to be a league-wide infatuation with Parcells. Perhaps it’s the beaten dog syndrome. Bill is a jerk to the media and his players, but they still wag their tails at him in the hopes of getting a pat on the head. I, for one, would rather admire the class of Gibbs. I guarantee he would never leave Brunell in a game if he was beaten down 18 times.

    I can’t help but notice that every game in which the Cowboys experience adversity brings with it infighting and sideline tantrums. I think this is a direct result of Parcells’ personality. The team is more concerned with his anger than the opponent.

    I did have a good laugh last night when Darrell Armstrong grabbed the mic before the Mavs game and screamed, “How about them Redskins!?” It’s nice to know I’m not the only enlightened fan in Dallas!

  2. Anonymous - Dec 20, 2005 at 8:10 AM

    Hey Rich, shhhh. Our beloved Redskins have always done better as underdogs. Let the National Media discount them. In fact we should encourage it.. “No Mr. Carucci, the Redskins aren’t really that good.”
    We Redskins fans know the truth. What we saw was a Gibb’s team clicking the way they should. Let’s just pray they keep doing it.

  3. Joe - Dec 20, 2005 at 12:23 PM

    Exactly. I’d rather not be in anyone’s Fine Fifteen or near the top any Power Rankings. I don’t want to listen to Chris Berman make up nicknames for our players or gush over our highlights. (Although I admit I like it when Sean Taylor puts people on Jacked Up!) Let all our opponents overlook us. It makes it that much sweeter when we punch them in the mouth.

  4. Kounter Trey - Dec 20, 2005 at 1:43 PM

    The media really do love Parcells. Clearly his .570 (162-122-1) career winning percentage shows him to be far superior to Gibbs at .645 (138-76). Oh, wait….

    It was so good to see the Skins return to the methodical ruthlessness of years gone by. Can’t wait ’til this weekend!

  5. Anonymous - Dec 20, 2005 at 2:02 PM

    did you also hear the fox commentator call Washington ‘DeMarcus Washington’ in the first quarter?

  6. Anonymous - Dec 20, 2005 at 2:48 PM

    I saw all the ESPN coverage and it was awful…call George Soloman!

  7. Anonymous - Dec 20, 2005 at 3:55 PM

    George Solomon–the guy who thinks Skins fans should try not to be so loud. Shhhhh!

  8. mbarnes202 - Dec 23, 2005 at 11:09 AM

    The Game was no doubt beautiful to watch. What Redskin fan wouldn’t enjoy Cooley steamrollering (is that a word?) the poor DB trying to tackle him on the 30 yard TD pass, or Betts absolutley obliterate a tackler on one of his runs (the same DB!), or sack after sack after sack?
    Will it elevate to the pantheon of great, great Redskin wins over Dallas?
    My two favorites:
    (1) the SI cover title said it all, Daryl Grant spiking the football in the endzone after scoring a TD, “Wham! Bam! It’s the Redskins.”
    (2) And usually stoic Tom Landry, screaming hopelessly to Danny White, as Danny was changing the play on a key fourth-and-one Dallas was trying to convert near midfield … playing right on top of the Dallas Star … Landry struggling but failing to contain the contorted look of desparate failure as the run was stuffed for no gain …
    Both of those had a signature play (you could include Dexter Manley knocking out Danny White), and I’m not sure if this past game did. I guess Cooley’s 30 yard TD catch-and-run?

    Anyway, we are on (I hope) to bigger and better things. We still need to make the playoffs. While there are many scenarios in which we make it, there are some very likely ones in which we don’t. The one that worries me the most: Dallas wins @ Carolina and at home vs. St. Louis, and the ‘Skins split with NY and Philly. That has TB and Dallas as the wildcards. I would say that’s at least as likely as Washington winning out.
    Here’s hoping it’s the latter. Archives

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