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NFL

Dallas extends its hex

COWBOYS 27, REDSKINS 20: Washington loses to its rival for the 10th consecutive time.

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 29, 2002


IRVING, Texas -- That game ball for Redskins owner Daniel Snyder must wait.

The Cowboys, who have owned the rival Redskins in recent seasons, cooked up their 10th consecutive victory against Washington 27-20 on Thanksgiving Day, stalling coach Steve Spurrier's plans to give Snyder the game ball he promised when the Redskins finally beat the Cowboys.

"Okay, I don't have to worry about any game balls on this side," said Spurrier, who told players shortly after being hired in January he was brought in by Snyder partly to end the team's losing streak against the Cowboys.

"We will have another chance in a month (They meet Dec.29 at Washington.), and hopefully, we will give them a better game. They kicked our butts." Outside of the rivalry, the outcome meant little. The victory, Dallas' second straight this season and sixth in a row against Washington on Thanksgiving, moved it into a third-place tie with Washington in the NFC East.

Nevertheless, it was entertaining for a national television audience and the 63,606 at Texas Stadium. The clock ran out as the Redskins' desperation pass was intercepted in the final seconds, preserving the Cowboys' rally from a 20-10 third-quarter deficit.

It was a big day for Dallas' Emmitt Smith. The league's all-time leading rusher, Smith ran for 144 yards on 23 carries (6.3 per carry), pushing his career total over 17,000.

"He has a way when he's on a stage of proving people wrong," Cowboys coach Dave Campo said, alluding to persistent whispers that Smith is washed up.

Dallas also got its second straight solid outing from rookie quarterback Chad Hutchinson. After throwing for 301 yards Sunday against the Jaguars, he was 12-for-25 for 145 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions against a defense ranked 10th in the league and 12th against the pass.

Leading 20-10 midway through the third quarter, the Redskins had the game in hand. Specifically, running back Kenny Watson's hands.

Facing third and 12 from their 1, the Redskins tried a simple dump pass over the middle to Watson. The pass hit him virtually in the numbers, but Watson bobbled the ball into the air and it fell into safety Roy Williams' hands.

The rookie from Oklahoma stumbled 5 yards into the end zone for the touchdown that made it 20-17 and, more important, turned the game in Dallas' favor. "That was a big play," Spurrier said. "But I don't know if that was the deciding one."

Maybe not, but the Dallas defense tightened up, allowing Washington to cross midfield just once and surrendering 60 yards during the final 11/2 quarters.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys offense, which mustered just 139 yards in the first half, came to life. After missing an open Joey Galloway on a deep post route early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys went back to an almost identical play two plays later.

This time, Galloway beat two defenders then casually walked the final 4 yards for a 41-yard touchdown and 24-20 lead.

From there, the defense did not let the Redskins get close to scoring. Early in the fourth, the Redskins faced second and 1 from their 36, but the Cowboys stopped running back Stephen Davis for no gain then sacked Danny Wuerffel for an 11-yard loss, forcing Washington to punt.

Placekicker James Tuthill, subbing for Bryan Barker, who broke his nose during a scramble after a second-quarter blocked field goal, shanked the kick, giving Dallas the ball at Washington's 43. It turned into a 42-yard field goal and 27-20 lead with 4:23 left. Again, with 3:50 left, the Redskins had a second and 1 they couldn't convert, this time at the Cowboys 34. First, cornerback Derek Ross nearly intercepted Wuerffel. Then Dallas stuffed Wuerffel's quarterback sneak up the middle, forcing fourth down. The Redskins went for it, sending Davis off right guard. But defensive tackle La'Roi Glover stopped him for no gain with 3:09 left. "I should have got it," Davis said.

The Redskins got the ball back at their 16 with 44 seconds left but gained only 12 yards before a penalty and the desperation pass. "We had our chances," Wuerffel said. "But we didn't take advantage of our opportunities."

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