September 16, 2002
LANDOVER, Md. -- Fred Smoot needed only one look at the standings to understand the importance of tonight's NFC East game between Philadelphia and Washington.
"Big. Big. Big," the Redskins cornerback said. "Right now, we can steal the show."
A win would give the Redskins a two-game lead over the defending division champion Eagles.
"We realize it's a long season," first-year Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. "Division game, though. Division games are a little more important. Obviously within your division adds a little bit extra something."
Though the Eagles lost their opener to the Titans, the game might be more crucial for the Redskins.
Washington has trips to San Francisco, Tennessee and Green Bay in the next four games. Philadelphia has home dates against Dallas and Houston and a trip to Jacksonville coming up.
"I wouldn't say a must-win," Philadelphia safety Brian Dawkins said. "But this is a key game."
Spurrier usually doesn't work his game plan around specific defensive players, which means he's likely to try to throw at stellar defensive backs Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Blaine Bishop and Bobby Taylor.
"I really don't worry all that much about who the guys are on the other team," Spurrier said. "Not as much as other people."
Spurrier's philosophy presents just the type of challenge a two-time Pro Bowl player like Dawkins loves.
"He's not a guy who's afraid to take chances," Dawkins said. "I like what he's doing. You need that. You can't be afraid to take chances in the NFL."