NFC East: Cowboys-Redskins

Mailbag: Dear Mosley

November, 18, 2008
11/18/08
2:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Each day, I spend hours poring over questions and comments from NFC Beast blog readers just like yourself. The ESPN.com Blog Network and its subsidiaries appreciate your dedication. Now, let's begin another session of the NFC Beast Mailbag with NFC Beast blogger Matt Mosley:

Mark from Kansas City, welcome to the NFC Beast Situation Room. What's on your mind, pal? Matt, appreciate your columns and blogs, but in this case (Eagles tie), I think you and the rest of the media need to make a serious point to the NFL: A game should never end in a tie. It's unfair to all involved, fans, players, coaches, etc. Not saying they adopt the college system per se, but come up with something so that someone walks away the winner. It's just hard for me to believe that really not much is being mentioned about it at all. Maybe it's only me and all the fans of both of the teams.

Matt Mosley: Mark, the funniest thing in the whole Donovan McNabb overtime storyline is that he wanted to know what would happen in a playoff game or Super Bowl. Oops, there's another rule Andy Reid needs to discuss with No. 5. But I think it's definitely something the rules committee should talk about after the season. The college overtime rule is flawed in its own right, but at least it produces an outcome. I'm not sure why the league doesn't simply begin another 15-minute sudden-death overtime. I realize the TV networks don't like the thought of a 1 p.m. ET game lasting until 5, but it's not like we have a tie every season. In fact, it had been six years since the last tie. And are we really worried about a game going five or six overtimes -- like hockey? Even the NHL came up with a way (shootouts) to bring a sense of closure after overtimes in the regular-season. The league should put aside its fears and simply play another overtime period. It's bad enough to have to watch the Eagles and Bengals play to a 13-13 tie through five quarters. The least the league can do is provide a better ending.


Kathleen in New York writes: I don't understand the issue with Donovan McNabb not knowing the rule about ties. Tiger doesn't know all the rules in his sport. Which is why he often asks the rules officials for clarification. Venus Williams lost track of the score in one of her matches. No one is calling them nitwits -- because they aren't. So, Donovan doesn't know every rule. He wanted to play to win the game. How is that a bad thing?

Mosley: Kathleen, I wish you could see my copy of the USGA Rules of Golf. It's something I live by -- as any of my usual playing partners (Werder, Archer, Cowlishaw, Torn, Logsdon) would attest. The rules of golf outnumber the rules of football, 30 to 1 -- or maybe more. And some of them are so archaic that you need a rules official to interpret them for you. In football, there are some basic rules that we sort of expect everyone to grasp. The rule that regular-season games end after a single overtime period has been around for years. Sure, it's a little easier to realize the goal posts have been moved back 10 yards when you stop running into them, but the overtime rule is fairly accessible to someone who's played in the league for a decade. And forgetting the score in tennis doesn't really have much to do with knowing the rules. Venus may just be a little forgetful at times.


Rich in Philly wants to know: Matt, can you please make your blog printable? Good for take along reading!!

Mosley: Rich, I'm not sure why you're having trouble with this. We use my blogs as placemats for every meal. But I will mention this to the NFC Beast IT department. Expect to hear something back in the early part of 2009.


Richard in Dallas has something on his mind: Matt, my boss and I were talking this morning, and he brought up a good point. When is Adam "Pacman" Jones supposed to be coming back. The last thing I heard was that his suspension was indefinite, and since his security detail got the boot, I figure he did also. Should we expect to hear anything else on this subject?

Mosley: Richard, first of all it's considered poor form to kiss up to your boss on this blog. Regarding Pacman's situation, he was suspended indefinitely, but he can now apply for reinstatement via NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has already said he'd welcome Pacman back into the fold, but it's not his decision.

We're told that Pacman has spent time commuting from Boston to Dallas during rehab, which is unlike any of the rehabs I've come across. We've heard from several sources that Goodell was very angry that he was having to discipline Pacman again. Goodell hates it when a player's conduct overshadows what's taking place on the field. That's why you shouldn't hold your breath about his return. The commissioner could reinstate him right now if he wanted to, but that would really surprise me. But who knows. If experts in the field of alcohol abuse convince Goodell that Pacman's recovery hinges on him being in an NFL locker room, maybe that would be enough to sway things.

Folks, you've been wonderful.

Are defenses catching up with the Z Man?

November, 18, 2008
11/18/08
12:48
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

There's a theory making its way around the NFC that Redskins coach Jim Zorn's West Coast offense is much easier to defend the second time around. Obviously the Giants didn't have a problem in Week 1, but that was before the Redskins racked up four consecutive wins, including road victories over the Cowboys and Eagles.

Zorn

Ryan O'Halloran does a really nice job covering the Redskins for the Washington Times, and he pointed to some disturbing numbers this morning:

"In the past five games, the Redskins are 2-3 and averaging 30 fewer yards and seven fewer points [than the first five games]. The most telling statistics: eight turnovers and 18 sacks allowed."

Zorn said Monday that the Redskins were "treading water," and they needed to start swimming. So far this season, the Redskins have responded well to adversity, but it's not like this is a two-week lull. When the Redskins lose, Zorn talks about how the team wasn't able to run enough plays for Jason Campbell to find his rhythm. But at some point, Zorn has to set the tempo from the very first play. Coaches who spend the whole game trying to set something up for later tend to have short stays in the business. But Zorn doesn't believe that teams are catching up with his tendencies.

"We're moving the ball, but we're not maintaining our composure so we can get our quarterback in a rhythm, so we can get our receivers downfield," Zorn said. "Those are the things I'm talking about -- that consistent blocking groove, both run and pass, so we can do what we want. I think it's us more than catching up with our ideas."

But whatever the case may be, Zorn needs to fix things in a hurry. He's preparing to face his former boss and mentor Mike Holmgren. And if anyone knows Zorn's tendencies, it's Holmgren. And, yes, I know the Seahawks are in a bad place right now. But I don't smell a blowout coming.

Tuesday's NFC Beastlines

November, 18, 2008
11/18/08
9:28
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Start your Tuesday with the Beast. We're determined to bring you the best stories across the division each and every weekday:

Cowboys

  • Quarterback Tony Romo will wear the pinkie splint for at least the next two games, according to Wade Phillips.

Eagles

  • Ashley Fox writes that Donovan McNabb will remain the starter -- at least until the end of the season. And the one thing I disagree with her on is saying that Kevin Kolb wouldn't benefit from playing this season. I'm not saying he should start, but Kolb would absolutely benefit from the playing time.

Giants

Redskins

What did we learn about the Beast on Sunday?

November, 17, 2008
11/17/08
1:57
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Like it or not, the New York Giants don't appear to have any serious challengers in the NFC. For all practical purposes, the race for the NFC East crown ended when the Giants (9-1) dismantled the Baltimore Ravens, 30-10, and the Cowboys (6-4) pulled off a 14-10 win over the Redskins (6-4).

Last year may have been a fairytale, but this season the Giants aren't sneaking up on anyone. They stacked up wins against the dregs of the league in the first half, and now they're plowing through the competitive portion of their schedule.

Meanwhile, the race for the NFC's two wild-card spots took an unpredictable turn Sunday. That is, unless you called that Eagles-Bengals tie.

 
 James Lang/US Presswire
 Marion Barber finished with 114 yards on 24 carries Sunday night.
At this very moment, the Eagles are going over the overtime rules with their 10-year veteran quarterback Donovan McNabb.

At 5-4-1 (that's so NHL), the Eagles have taken their rightful place in the NFC Beast cellar. McNabb has posted back-to-back howlers against the Giants and Bengals. He threw three interceptions against one of the worst defenses in the league in Sunday's 13-13 tie. So for now, let's eliminate the Eagles from contention.

At FedEx Field, the Cowboys were busy pumping life into their fading playoff hopes. Quarterback Tony Romo was supposed to give them a lift -- and he did -- but it was running back Marion Barber who did the heavy lifting. He was so brilliant in the fourth quarter that the club's P.R. staff forced the painfully shy player into fielding a couple of questions following the game.

On the Cowboys' game-sealing drive, he touched the ball on 11 consecutive plays. He capped off the punishing stretch with a 3-yard run around the right side on fourth-and-1. Barber put the team on his back in the second half, and in doing so, lit a fire under the club's talented offensive line.

(Read full post)

Redskins day-after nuggets

November, 17, 2008
11/17/08
11:41
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The Redskins are going to be miserable after reviewing film of Sunday's 14-10 loss to the Cowboys. Washington had numerous opportunities to take control of the game, but it couldn't rise to the occasion. Here are some talking points in case you guys want to re-live that loss:

  • First of all, it's hard to believe that a team that looked so dominant on its opening drive could look so pedestrian the rest of the game. Quarterback Jason Campbell made two excellent reads on third-down passes and then coach Jim Zorn went for it on fourth-and-1 to set up the touchdown. When DeAngelo Hall picked off Tony Romo on the ensuing drive, the Redskins had all the momentum.
  • Still maintaining a 7-0 lead, the Redskins faced third-and-6 from the Cowboys' 36-yard line midway through the second quarter. The Redskins were then penalized for having 12 players in the huddle. There was no excuse for not having the proper personnel on the field at such a crucial moment. Campbell and Zorn were visibly upset. Campbell was sacked by DeMarcus Ware on the next play and the Redskins were forced to punt.
  • On the first drive of the second half, Campbell appeared to find his rhythm. But when he tried to throw to Santana Moss on a quick out, Terence Newman jumped the route and made the interception. Campbell telegraphed the pass, which allowed Newman to get a great jump on the ball. On Sunday night, the return of Newman probably played a bigger role than the return of Romo.
  • Later in the third quarter, the Redskins quickly moved the ball to the Cowboys' 17-yard line. But after a 3-yard loss on second down, Campbell was sacked by Jay Ratliff on third-and-13. Forced to attempt a 46-yard field goal instead of a 38-yarder, former Cowboys kicker Shaun Suisham came up just short.
  • After the Cowboys took a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Redskins marched to the Cowboys' 37-yard line, where they had a third-and-4. Rookie wide receiver Devin Thomas dropped a pass that would've given the Redskins a first down. On fourth down, Newman broke up a pass to Moss.

Cowboys dial up a season-saver

November, 17, 2008
11/17/08
2:11
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- In a season that had gone horribly wrong, the Cowboys pinned their dwindling playoff hopes on the right arm -- and pinkie -- of quarterback Tony Romo. But on a bitter cold night at FedEx Field, it was running back Marion Barber and the defense that saved the Cowboys' season with a 14-10 victory in front of 90,830 white towel-waving fans.

 
 James Lang/US Presswire
 Dallas running back Marion Barber (24) celebrates a first down that seals the win against Washington.

The much-maligned offensive line that had done little to validate last season's Pro Bowl representation finally took over a game in the fourth quarter. Barber accounted for 83 yards alone in the final frame, and he took the pressure off Romo, who showed signs of rust after missing three games with the injury.

"I think he made some sort of record," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said of Barber. "He certainly was a catalyst tonight. When the game is on the line, he can always give it you -- and he did."

Barber finished with 24 carries for 114 yards, 69 of which came in the second half. And when Phillips faced a fourth-and-1 on the Redskins' 17-yard line with just over a minute to go in the game, he never hesitated. The Cowboys (6-4) simply fed the ball to Barber, who clinched the game by barreling down the right sideline.

"We looked up at the clock when it was fourth-and-1," center Andre Gurode said. "We just wanted to line up right there and end it. And fortunately, the coaches had confidence in us."

Romo looked like a quarterback trying to catch up with game speed in the first half. He had the Cowboys at the Washington 27-yard line when he threw a ball at least three yards behind Terrell Owens. Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who'd been signed to a free-agent contract last week, had an easy interception.

But on the Cowboys' game-winning drive, Romo relied on the improvisational skills that earned him a $30 million signing bonus last season. Facing third-and-7 at the Redskins' 33, Romo was flushed out of the pocket. But just before he crossed the line of scrimmage, he shoveled the ball to Miles Austin racing across the middle. The play gave the Cowboys a first down and set up Romo's 25-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett on the next play.

"That's just one of those things he does," Austin said within earshot of Romo. "He and the other guy who plays for the Jets. I was running a slant, and I decided to break it off and dip under the linebacker. I was trying to burn a hole in his eyes."

Romo, wearing a flat cap he may have borrowed from Bagger Vance and a linen suit (post-Labor Day violation), walked around the locker room carrying an iPod boom box that was blaring Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle." He stopped long enough to say, "I missed playing ball."

As a P.R. representative pleaded for him to head to the interview room, Romo asked for a moment of privacy to savor the win. He pumped his fist twice and then went to meet with reporters.

"It was like a kid who was on punishment for four weeks," Gurode said of Romo. "And he finally got to come out and play."

The Cowboys and Redskins are now tied for second in the NFC East with 6-4 records. The Eagles are a half-game back after Sunday's tie with the Bengals. The Redskins actually have the easiest schedule remaining in the division, but the Cowboys have the benefit of hosting back-to-back games against the 49ers and Seahawks.

If they can get to 8-4 after the Thanksgiving Day game against Seattle, they'll have 10 days to prepare for a trip to Pittsburgh. After Sunday's game, owner Jerry Jones stood in the corner of the locker room with a look of relief on his face. He came out out last week and said the Cowboys could "absolutely" make the playoffs. At the time, though, it sounded like false optimism.

"We had at least three or four different junctures in that ballgame where a team with a lot less heart against a pretty hostile crowd could've tucked it in -- and we didn't do it," Jones said. "That was singularly the most important thing I saw."

 
 NFL.com Video
 Highlights of the Cowboys' 14-10 victory over the Redskins.

For more on Sunday's game, do not stop reading this column:

Newman returns in style: The last time these teams met, Santana Moss caught a 53-yard pass on an out-and-up move against Cowboys Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman. After that game, Newman was diagnosed with a sports hernia and had to undergo surgery. But instead of easing Newman into the fray, Phillips had him cover Moss one-on-one for much of the game.

Newman made the defensive play of the game when he broke underneath a short out route to Moss on the Redskins' first possession of the second half. The Redskins were facing third-and-2 at the Cowboys' 35-yard line and they already had a 10-7 lead. The Cowboys didn't immediately cash in, but Newman's play changed the complexion of the game.

He also broke up a pass to Moss when the Redskins went for it on fourth-and-4 with 6:46 left in the game. Moss, who has been a thorn in the Cowboys' side since 2005, finished with five catches for 29 yards.

In addition to Newman's fine play, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratliff combined for three sacks. Ratliff pointed out that the class of 2005 (Ware, Marcus Spears and Chris Canty
included) had never won at FedEx Field.

"This is the toughest division in football," Ratliff said. "We knew we had to come in here and stop the run. And Canty, Ware and Spears made it possible for me to get some one-on-one situations tonight."

Portis plays through the pain: Even though the team's flagship radio station officially declared him out three hours before the game, running back Clinton Portis took the field at 5:22 p.m. ET and decided he wanted to play. His presence gave the Redskins a lift on their first possession, but he wasn't as effective later in the game.

"I know [I'll be sore], but I'll worry about that when it gets here," Portis said. "I think that I had the opportunity to get out and help my teammates, so I needed to be out there."

Offensive line tired of losing money: In the days leading up to the Redskins game, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and offensive line coach Hudson Houck were desperate to cut down on some of the mental errors that had plagued the team. So they made players run after practice when they made mistakes. And the linemen had to pay fines when one of the coaches saw a mental error on film.

In Sunday's game, the Cowboys only had five penalties for 40 yards. Left tackle Flozell Adams and right tackle Marc Colombo each had a false start, but the line didn't commit a penalty in the fourth quarter.

On the game-winning drive early in the fourth quarter, wide receiver Roy Williams walked into the huddle, looked at each linemen and said, "This is what you live for, big fellas."

Gurode said that everybody in the huddle had a look of anticipation on their face in the fourth quarter. And as each run was called, they gained more and more confidence. It's way too soon to say this team's found its swagger, but for one quarter, it was there.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 14, Redskins 10

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
11:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted before Sunday's game that his team needed to beat the Redskins to save its season. And for at least one week, that's exactly what the Cowboys did with a 14-10 victory in front of 90,830 at FedEx Field.

The Redskins couldn't put the game away when they had the chance, in part, because the Cowboys' defense refused to cooperate. DeMarcus Ware's second sack of the game forced Washington to try a 46-yard field goal that fell short.

Before that, cornerback Terence Newman ended a Redskins drive when he broke in front of a short pass to Santana Moss to make an interception. The Cowboys' offense finally delivered by riding the powerful legs of Marion Barber. And quarterback Tony Romo came up with two huge throws early in the fourth quarter. On a third-and-7, he called upon his improvisational skills to shovel a pass to Miles Austin on the run.

On the next play, he found rookie tight end Martellus Bennett for a 25-yard touchdown. The Redskins drove the ball to the Cowboys' 37-yard line, but couldn't convert on third- and fourth-and-4. Newman, who returned after missing five games with a sports hernia, had Moss blanketed on the fourth-down play.

Early in the game, it looked like Clinton Portis' return from a knee injury would inspire the Redskins offense. Portis had five carries for 29 yards on the Redskins' first possession, and fullback Mike Sellers finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown catch.

The hero for the Cowboys, though, was Barber. He completely took over the game in the fourth quarter. And for the first time in over a month, the offensive line took over the line of scrimmage.

Facing a fourth-and-1 deep in Redskins territory, Wade Phillips chose to dial up Barber one more time. It worked, and the Cowboys' playoff hopes received a serious shot in the arm. Both teams are now 6-4, which leaves 5-4-1 Philadelphia in the NFC East cellar.

Much more to come in my game column.

Timely sacks by Ware

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
10:32
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware has been accused of piling up some empty sack totals this season, but his two tonight have been crucial. With 9:37 left in the first half, the Redskins had third-and-11 at the Cowboys' 41-yard line. Ware broke through and sacked Campbell for a 10-yard loss.

And with the Redskins driving in the third quarter, Ware picked up another sack for an 8-yard loss. That meant that Shaun Suisham had to attempt a 45-yarder instead of a 37-yard field goal. Suisham left it short, and the Redskins weren't able to increase their 10-7 lead.

By the way, owner Jerry Jones said before the game that he expected a big game from outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. So far, though, Spencer hasn't accomplished much. The Cowboys are in this game because Terence Newman, Jay Ratliff and Ware have all played excellent games. In fact, the entire defense has been pretty solid.

Back-breaking mistakes by the Cowboys

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
10:03
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- After allowing a touchdown on the Redskins' first possession, the Cowboys wasted two great scoring opportunities. Quarterback Tony Romo had the Cowboys at the Redskins' 27-yard line when he threw a pass at least five yards behind Terrell Owens.

The Cowboys devoted a lot of energy forcing the ball to T.O. in the first half, and he finally broke free for a 25-yard gain to set up his team's only score. On Romo's other interception, T.O. was destroyed by Carlos Rogers. Rocky McIntosh made the diving interception. The Cowboys had been at the Redskins' 25-yard line when the second turnover occurred.

But if the Redskins win this game, I think we'll point back to Rock Cartwright's 58-yard kickoff return at the end of the half. The Redskins were able to capitalize on the return with a field goal and take a 10-7 halftime lead. The Redskins need to get quarterback Jason Campbell in some type of rhythm early in the second half. He was 9 of 15 for 64 yards in the first half. His most impressive play was a quarterback draw on which he bowled over Cowboys safety Patrick Watkins.

So much for Portis on a limited basis

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
9:30
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Redskins coach Jim Zorn said there was a good chance running back Clinton Portis would play on a limited basis -- if he played at all Sunday. But as we discussed Friday, there was no way Portis was going to be a role player. He had five carries for 29 yards in the first quarter alone. And he's kept banging away in the second quarter.

He looks pretty healthy from my vantage point, but you guys have a better view on TV. The Cowboys have spent most of the first half desperately trying to get the ball to T.O. The Cowboys have thrown to T.O. seven times, and two of those throws have gone for interceptions.

And where is Jason Witten? A Cowboys source said before the game that he took another pain-killing shot for his ribs. And just when I brought his name up, Witten comes through with a big catch for 28 yards.

Injury update on Marcus Washington

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
9:11
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington has left the game with a sprained ankle and his return is questionable. Washington has been banged up all season. H.B. Blades has taken his place in the starting lineup. Blades is part of the Redskins' short-yardage unit.

He's sort of a poor man's London Fletcher. Both are little guys who bring a tremendous amount of energy. The Cowboys continue to work the perimeter with Marion Barber. At some point, you'd expect them to run a counter play right at Redskins defensive tackle Kedric Golston.

The Beast checks in with Monk and Green

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
7:49
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- We just had an opportunity to visit with Darrell Green and Art Monk moments before they were to receive their Hall of Fame rings in a pregame ceremony. I asked Green whether he still hates the Dallas Cowboys.

"I certainly don't want to lose to the Cowboys," Green said. "We had a rivalry against Philly and the Giants, but there was something about playing the Cowboys. If you could get a win and it was against the Cowboys, it was like another straw in your hat."

Green also talked about the signing of Raiders castoff DeAngelo Hall, calling it an "incredible steal."

Green's attending this game with a heavy heart. His 53-year-old brother, Leonard, died unexpectedly Tuesday after experiencing shortness of breath. Green said he'll head to Houston on Monday to attend his brother's wake and the funeral will be Tuesday.

Monk didn't have much to say, which shouldn't come as a shock. But he did tell me that Everson Walls was the former Cowboys player who did the best job of defending him over the years.

"He was a finesse guy," Monk said. "But he was such a great athlete that he made it very difficult."

Monk fondly remembered a Redskins-Cowboys game at Texas Stadium in which Cowboys players attempted to prevent the "Fun Bunch" from celebrating a touchdown. The Redskins avenged a 31-30 loss at RFK by winning, 31-10.

Jacobs: I believe we can fly

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
6:43
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

In reading through the postgame transcripts from the Giants-Ravens game, I came across this gem from running back Brandon Jacobs, who was forced to leave Sunday's game with a knee injury:

Reporter: Are you surprised about putting up the number you did against the number one rush defense as well as scoring on the first drive?

Jacobs: I'm not surprised by anything that we do. We are capable of doing anything. You might see one of us fly one day, you never know. Our line did a good job, our coaches did a good job of calling plays and putting us in positions we needed to be in.

Jacobs' ability to fly is questionable heading into Sunday's game against the Cardinals. But he actually said he could've returned had the Giants needed him against the Ravens.

Jacobs prefaced his statements Sunday by saying he had to be brief because he had tickets to the Knicks-Mavericks game.

"You're going to have to hurry this up because I have to get to the Knicks game to watch them beat up on Dallas," Jacobs said.

The latest on Portis

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
6:22
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

LANDOVER, Md. -- At 5:45 p.m. ET, Redskins running back Clinton Portis took the field and went through 10 minutes of drills in front of head coach Jim Zorn and director of medicine Bubba Tyer. He then walked off the field having a conversation with Zorn. According to Ed Werder, Portis appeared to move well and didn't have any trouble running.

Werder then talked to four different Redskins players on the field. Three of them told him they didn't think Portis would play. Center Casey Rabach was the lone player holding out hope.

We should have official word at about 6:45 p.m. ET. The club's flagship radio station, ESPN 980, reported about an hour and a half ago that Portis wasn't going to play. But that was before Portis took the field to warm up. A high-ranking team official told me not to count Portis out. I'm about to run down to the field and see if I can find out more.

We'll also talk to Art Monk and Darrell Green. They both receive Pro Football Hall of Fame rings during a pre-game ceremony.

Portis doesn't do 'limited fashion'

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

Portis

Redskins coach Jim Zorn said he might be willing to play running back Clinton Portis (knee) "in a limited fashion" Sunday, but I have a hard time believing that. If Portis says he can go -- which seems like a stretch -- he'll start and carry the ball at least 18 times.

He's been in this type of situation several times before. When Portis takes the field, there's no such thing as "limited fashion." Portis is not a change-of-pace back. He needs carries to bang away at a defense. He's also one of the best pass-blocking backs. If he's active, he won't allow Zorn to ease him into the flow.

If he plays, he'll have 20 carries and 100 yards. If he's not able to go, the Redskins could struggle mightily in the running game.

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