Thursday, September 14, 2006
Cowboys-Redskins return to the scene of the comeback
ASHBURN, Va. -- When Dallas Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe
got home from the Monday night game against the Washington Redskins
last year, he found voice mails and e-mails congratulating him on
The problem was, the Cowboys didn't win the game.
Dallas blew a 13-0 lead in the final four minutes. The friends
who left Bledsoe the messages live on the East Coast, and they went
to bed before Santana Moss caught two long passes in a 14-13
Redskins victory that became an instant classic in the long-running
"They called back the next day and said, 'I'm sorry," Bledsoe
While Bledsoe was receiving apologies, Moss was receiving
flowers. Two dozen red and yellow roses awaited the receiver at
Redskins Park the next day, sent from an anonymous fan who was
reveling over the Redskins' first win in Dallas since 1995.
"We've seen Dallas do that to us so many times," tackle Jon
Jansen said. "And to be able to come out with a win in Dallas was
a huge momentum swing for us."
One year later, the Cowboys and Redskins are again meeting in
Texas Stadium in Week 2, this time on Sunday night instead of
Monday. And, just as last year, Washington enters the game needing
a boost after a tepid Week 1 performance.
The Redskins didn't score a touchdown in the first 7½ quarters
of the season last year, a drought that ended with Moss' hauls of
39 and 70 yards. They had relied on field goals in a 9-7 win over
Chicago the previous week, and coach Joe Gibbs' coaching comeback
was looking more and more like a flop.
The two scores to beat the Cowboys were a psychological lift,
and Gibbs went on to lead the team to a 10-6 record and the
franchise's first postseason berth since 1999. Dallas finished one
game back at 9-7, with no playoffs.
"We were beaten late in a couple of games last year by what I
term as unusual circumstances," Dallas coach Bill Parcells said.
"That was one of them."
This year, the situation is more critical on both sides. They
are both 0-1 in an NFC East that is expected to be extremely
competitive. The Redskins scored only one touchdown in their
season-opening loss at home to Minnesota, and Moss, whose place in
franchise lore is secure even if he never plays another game,
realizes his teammates can't sit around hoping for another Texas
miracle Sunday night.
"One or two plays are not going to get you a win," Moss said.
"Last year we were fortunate that it did, but you cannot go out
there and bank on that again. I would never want to be put in that
situation again and have to dig that deep late. I would like to get
it out of the way early. If we can do it early, I'd be willing to
go down there and make those plays."
Moss was new to the Redskins last year, and he didn't realize
the importance of the Cowboys game until he received the nonstop
adulation following the comeback victory. The truth is, the rivalry
had dimmed for several years because it was so one-sided, with
Washington winning only once from 1997-2004. Last year, a 35-7 home
victory in December completed a rare Redskins sweep.
Now, the thought of revenge has revived the spice of the
matchup, at least for some of the Cowboys.
"Since I've been here, we've basically had our way with them,
buying into that rivalry," linebacker Bradie James said. "We've
been beating them every time. They finally beat us twice. Now's our
turn to get back on track."