Daily Archives: November 20th, 2011

NFC EAST SHAKEUP: Eagles’ win over Giants puts Dallas Cowboys atop NFC East

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo

The Dallas Cowboys are tied for the NFC East division lead.

That news come at the heels of the Cowboys’ overtime win in Washington coupled with the New York Giants’ crushing home loss to the Philadelphia Eagles tonight on Sunday Night Football.

Both teams are now 6-4 with six games remaining. Two of those six contests will be head-to-head battles against each other.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for both the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys:

Dallas Cowboys (currently 6-4)

Week 12: vs. Miami

Week 13: @Arizona

Week 14: vs. New York Giants

Week 15: @Tampa Bay

Week 16: vs. Philadelphia

Week 17: @New York Giants

New York Giants (currently 6-4)

Week 12: @New Orleans

Week 13: vs. Green Bay

Week 14: @Dallas

Week 15: vs. Washington

Week 16: @New York Jets

Week 17: vs. Dallas

Photo courtesy: Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

ROOKIE CONNECTIONS: Dan Bailey wins another one for the ‘Boys

 Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey

Rookie kicker Dan Bailey has been money all season, making 24 in a row and 25-of-26. That includes his 39-yard overtime field goal that beat the Redskins on Sunday.

“You’ve just got to go out there and execute it when you’re supposed to,” Bailey said. “It’s not all me. I’ve got good blocking and obviously the offense and the defense played really well today. It’s not just me out there. It’s 10 other guys.”

Bailey has been unflappable since missing a 21-yarder early against the 49ers. He redeemed himself in that game with a 19-yard field goal in overtime. That gave him confidence for Sunday’s kick.

“It’s tough to recreate those situations in practice,” Bailey said. “You can to an extent, but yeah, definitely having that earlier in the season kind of helped me mentally with knowing what to expect.”

He is three field goals short of tying Chris Boniol’s team record for consecutive field goals. Boniol, now the team’s kicking coach, made 27 in a row in 1996.

“You know I’m too concerned about that right now,” Bailey said. “The only record I’m concerned about is our win-loss record and hopefully we can get a couple of more wins and keep it rolling.”

After three years of ups and downs with their kickers, the Dallas Cowboys finally seem to have hit on one. He is playing the best of any Cowboys’ kicker since Nick Folk’s rookie season in 2007.

“We all have a tremendous amount of trust in Dan and our whole operation,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “There is too much evidence. He’s done such a good job with every opportunity we’ve given him this year. He has a tremendous amount of poise and is… very consistent in technique. We’re going to keep giving him some chances and hopefully he’ll keep doing what he’s been doing.”

Photo: STAR-TELEGRAM | RODGER MALLISON

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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Dallas Cowboys historic milestones

2011 Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back

2011 Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back

Here are the notes compiled by the Dallas Cowboys’:

Today’s overtime win was Dallas’ second overtime game and win of the season – the first came at San Francisco (9/18). It was Dallas’ 29th overtime game (since 1974 when the extra period was adopted) and gave the club a 17-12 record in those games. Dallas has now one four straight overtime games.

Dan Bailey’s two field goals today upped his streak of consecutive field goals made to 24 which is still the third-longest, tops among rookies, in club history:

Consecutive Player FGM Season

Chris Boniol 27 1996

Chris Boniol 26 1995

Dan Bailey* 24 2011

Richie Cunningham* 18 1997

Nick Folk 16 2008-09

*indicates rookie

Through 10 games of his rookie season, Bailey has been true on 25 field goals. His 25 field goals made in 10 games is second in team history over that span:

Player (Year) FGM FGA Pct

Richie Cunningham (1997) 26 28 92.9

Dan Bailey (2011) 25 26 96.2

Rafael Septien (1981) 20 22 90.9

Toni Fritsch (1975) 19 31 61.3

Rafael Septien (1984) 18 20 90.0

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NFC EAST BRUISER: DeMarco Murray appreciates Redskins linebacker Fletcher in ‘most physical game’ he’s been in

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) picks up three yards

STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) picks up three yards

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It looked like Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was going to tackle DeMarco Murray on every play.

The 14-year veteran had Murray in his sights constantly, making 10 solo or assisted tackles on the rookie in the Cowboys’ 27-24 overtime victory Sunday.

Murray shook his head and gave a small smile.

“Man, he’s a great linebacker,” Murray said. “He’s an old guy, but I have a ton of respect for him. He was bringing it all day long.”

Murray called it the most physical game he’s ever been in. He rushed for 73 yards on 25 carries, averaging only 2.9 yards. He caught six passes for 32 yards.

“We had a little trouble coming off our double teams,” he said. “The offensive line did a great job at times. I did a great job at times. But there were some times we weren’t on the same page. We’ll definitely clean it up this week.”

Murray said he missed his fullback, Tony Fiammetta, who missed the game because of illness. Tight end John Phillips played fullback, and Murray said he and the offensive line blocked well enough that he could have broken a big run or two.

“There were a few times when I definitely should have, and it was all on me,” he said. “My offensive line and J.P. did an awesome job blocking. I just wasn’t able to make that one guy miss. So, three or four times, I definitely should have broken a big one.”

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LOOKING BACK: Punter Mat McBriar’s tackle might have been game’s biggest play

Dallas Cowboys punter Mat McBriar (1) and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur (91) watch a punt during warmups

STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON

Dallas Cowboys punter Mat McBriar (1) and long snapper L.P. LaDouceur (91) watch a punt during warmups

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Punter Mat McBriar had a rough day. He had a 23-yard punt that set up a 32-yard Redskins touchdown drive, and he finished with a 24.1 net.

But McBriar also arguably — he argues otherwise — had the biggest play of the game. He tackled punt returner Brandon Banks to save a touchdown.

“Big play, wasn’t it?” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “It really was. And if you think about where he’s been the last few weeks with his injury. Talk about a gut check. To get yourself right to make that play, those are significant plays. You talk about the plays that show up on SportsCenter. Sometimes the tackle by a punter doesn’t really show up there, but it was a significant play in the ball game.”

Banks’ 55-yard return could have given Washington a 14-point lead early in the third quarter. They missed a field goal, getting no points out of the drive despite starting on the Dallas 34-yard line.

The word “tackle” surprised McBriar a little, however.

“It was just sort of a lunge: ‘Please go out of bounds, little fella,’ ” he said in Australia-speak.

McBriar’s effort, as he tries to play with nerve damage in his left (plant) foot that also limits movement to his left, got the attention of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

“For him to move around, for him to go over there and make that tackle, that’s pretty impressive,” Jones said.

McBriar shrugged when somebody called it the biggest play of the game.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I didn’t think about it that way. I think I gave the defense a 30-yard field and a 34-yard field. I kind of look at it the other way, not like it was a positive.”

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EXCLUSIVE: The Great Robbini’s BOLD predictions for Week #11

The Boys Are Back exclusive ... The GREAT Robbini
The Boys Are Back exclusive … The GREAT Robbini

Here are the NEARLY WORLD FAMOUS predictions from Robert A Knight … aka The GREAT Robbini … our self-proclaimed prediction guru. He’s back this week … fired up … and Felix Jones’n for some NFC East rematch action! This time, he’s made nearly two dozen predictions … some of them bold … as always, he’s confident and cocky about the outcome of this weeks game! 

Eight weeks ago, the Washington Redskins came into Cowboys Stadium and left with a two-point loss. After that game, Dallas went into slump and a period ‘finding themselves’.  Along the way … the “Boys found a rising superstar running back, improving offensive line, sparks in the receiving corp, and a reliable rookie kicker. This week, a surging Cowboys team travels into hostile Washington, on the heels of  the Redskins five-game losing streak.  A healthy Tony Romo is coming off his best game of the year and the vibe is definitely on the side of America’s Team. Will the Redskins find motivation and pull themselves out of their slump against the NFL’s #8 offense and #5 defense? We’ll soon find out. Kickoff at 12:00 noon, Dallas time. 

It’s time for The GREAT Robbini’s predictions … I’m sure you’ll agree … a lot of these will come true. OK, here we go …

The GREAT Robbini – Week #11 predictions: 

It’s going to be a bumpy ride. The Redskins will not overcome the odds Sunday against the surging Cowboys. Even plagued by injury and illness, the ‘boys fly in and show em who’s boss. It’s a Redskins sweep this year. Add another notch.

  • Tony Romo 3 TDs
  • Tony Romo throws for over 245
  • TD Diamond Dez Bryant
  • Dez gets over 50 yards
  • TD Jason Witten
  • Jason Witten has 4+ catches
  • Robinson over 45 yds
  • Cowboys over 100 yds rushing
  • Murray/Jones account for at least 140 yds 
  • Boys control the clock
  • Boys lead in 1st downs
  • Cowboys capitalize on five + 3rd downs
  • Skins receive kick to start 3rd quarter
  • Boys force 2 turnovers
  • Cowboys defense makes at least 1 INT
  • Boys make at least 3 team sacks
  • Ware 2 sacks
  • Lee leads tackles
  • Skins punt at least 5x
  • Skins injury during game (starter)
  • Game ends in regulation
  • Cowboys win
  • Cowboys remain in 2nd place. (Giants also win)

Remember, you read it here! The Great Robbini predictions for week #11

TBAB POSTGAME SUMMARY: All in all … a pretty strong showing by The GREAT Robbini this week. Eleven of his bold predictions came true … three didn’t. What Robinson lacked in total yardage, he made up for on the TD catch. Robinson was targeted many times today, but he was unable to connect with Tony Romo. They seemed out of sync for the first time this year. The running game did well, but not quite up to that 100 yard threshold we all hold so dear. The Dallas defense allowed the Redskins to stay in the game. Garrett stayed with the running game plan, but the opportunities were limited by our blockers and offensive line. Both, DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones, averaged under 3 yards per carry … on a combined 30 carries. The Redskins did a good job of limiting both running backs today. Staying with the running attack (and play action), Dallas completed several nice passes to the receivers, tight-ends, and tailbacks. The tight-ends caught seven passes, and the wide receivers had nine. The running back duo caught seven passes, which added to their overall stats.  The jury’s still out on the Giants win and Dallas retaining 2nd place. Check back later for that summary. Overall, nice job Robbini!

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GAME RECAP – BOX SCORE – GRADE: ‘Boys rally, outkick ‘Skins in overtime

Cowboys Redskins

Photo: Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten holds the ball (to fans of his he spotted in the stands) after 59 yd TD run. 

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LANDOVER, Md. — There’s still some steam left in the Dallas-Washington rivalry, enough to create an overtime nail-biter even when one team is on a roll and the other is struggling.

Dan Bailey’s 39-yard field goal 9:21 into the extra period Sunday decided the Cowboys’ 27-24 victory, their third straight win and the Redskins’ sixth consecutive defeat.

Bailey’s winning kick was set up by Tony Romo’s 26-yard completion to Dez Bryant on third-and-15 after Washington’s Graham Gano was barely wide right on a 52-yard field-goal attempt on the opening possession of overtime.

After rolling to double-digit wins that put the Cowboys on the heels of the NFC East-leading New York Giants, Romo and the Cowboys (6-4) had to rally in the second half against a team that has spent more than a month in the doldrums. His two fourth-quarter touchdown passes were vintage Romo, scrambling to buy time to toss a 7-yard game-tying score to Laurent Robinson before rolling left to spot a wide-open Jason Witten for a 59-yard go-ahead TD with 8:48 to play.

But Washington came back, with Rex Grossman leading an 89-yard drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to Donte’ Stallworth with 14 seconds left in regulation.

Romo was due for a sack or two, and the Cowboys quarterback went down four times. DeMarco Murray couldn’t continue at such a torrid pace forever, and he was held to 73 yards. The Redskins’ offensive ineptitude couldn’t go on forever, so it was inevitable they actually reach the end zone while the game was somewhat competitive.

Nevertheless, the Redskins (3-7) are mired in their longest skid since their 0-7 start in 1998. As a consolation, they scored more points than they had in their previous three games combined (20).

Romo finished 23 for 37 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown an interception in three straight games, but his streak of two games without being sacked came to an end. Rookie sensation Murray, who had run for 139 and 135 yards the previous two weeks, finished with 73 yards on a workhorse 25 carries and also caught six passes for 32 yards.

Grossman completed 25 of 38 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Washington’s Jabar Gaffney caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

CBSSports.com Grades
Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys
B+
Getting to 6-4 is big and having to rally in the fourth quarter makes it sweeter. Tony Romo wasn’t his best either, but he improvised on his last two TDs and the defense stepped up late to hold on. They overcame a dismal game on special teams, allowing their two longest punt returns of the season.
By Nick Eatman
RapidReports Correspondent
Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
B+
The Redskins did an excellent job offensively. Rex Grossman had enough time to find open targets downfield. Defensively, the Redskins were stung by big pass plays, but the defense’s early effort allowed the offense time to get into a rhythm. Special teams finally provided big plays, but two missed field goals — one in overtime — hurt them. Still, a blowout was anticipated.
By John Keim
RapidReports Correspondent

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RIVAL HEADLINE: Washington fails to find a victory in overtime

 
 

Photos Courtesy: The Washington Post

After five straight dismal performances, the Washington Redskins broke out of their funk Sunday to put on one of their best offensive showings of the season and nearly end the worst losing streak of Coach Mike Shanahan’s career.

But in the end the result was the same, as the Dallas Cowboys escaped FedEx Field with a 27-24 overtime victory in a fierce rivalry game that marked the first time since 1998 the Redskins have been defeated six straight times.

The Redskins (3-7), who forced overtime on a four-yard touchdown pass from Rex Grossmanto Donte Stallworth with 14 seconds left to play, had their chances. They won the overtime toss and received the kickoff, and Grossman moved his unit into Cowboys territory, but the drive stalled at the Dallas 34-yard line.

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POSTGAME REPORT – HIGHLIGHTS: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins (Video)

DC.com Today: Postgame Report

Nick Eatman, Rob Phillips, and Josh Ellis break down an overtime win for the Cowboys against the Redskins in D.C.

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Cowboys vs Redskins: Highlight

Watch as the Cowboys snatch a victory from the Redskins on overtime 27-24.

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Cowboys Redskins

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Witten meets with Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan after the Dallas Cowboys win.

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DOWN TO THE WIRE: Dallas Cowboys 27, Washington Redskins 24 (Overtime)

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) and tight end Jason Witten (82) celebrate the winning field goal in overtime as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 27-24

STAR-TELEGRAM/RODGER MALLISON

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) and tight end Jason Witten (82) celebrate the winning field goal in overtime as the Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Redskins 27-24

LANDOVER, Md. — These games between the Cowboys and Redskins are never pretty. It’s always quirky, close and in some cases heartbreaking.

The Cowboys can go home happy thanks to a 27-24 victory at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon. Dallas has won a season-high three games and moved to a season-high two games over .500.

What it means: The Cowboys have six wins and are just a half-game behind the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East. If the Giants lose Sunday night vs. the Eagles, there will be a first-place tie. This win for the Cowboys is just another example of how gritty this team is.

Bailey wins it: Dan Bailey converted his 24th consecutive field goal attempt to win it, a 39-yarder with 5:39 remaining in overtime. Bailey hasn’t missed a kick since his 21-yarder in Week 2 at San Francisco. Just before the game winner, the Redskins called timeout, but quarterback Tony Romo, who is the holder, called timeout as well. The Cowboys had no timeouts left. If the referees had seen Romo make the call first, the Cowboys would have been charged with a 5-yard penalty.

Missed kick for Washington: Kicker Graham Gano had a chance to win it for the Redskins but was wide right from 52 yards with 9:27 left in overtime. The miss set up the Cowboys’ chance to win the game.

Cowboys’ defense can’t hold the lead: It appeared the Cowboys’ defense was going to stop the Redskins after the offense had taken a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter. But it was not to be. Donte’ Stallworth made a clutch catch in the corner of the end zone over Alan Ball with 14 seconds to play that tied the game at 24-24. There was a clutch play by Marcus Spears on a pass breakup inside the 5, a hit by Jason Hatcher on another pass play and a tackle for loss by Anthony Spencer, but there was an Orlando Scandrick holding call on third down.

Witten responds: He didn’t have any catches in the first half, but tight end Jason Witten responded with a strong second half. He ended the day with three catches for 85 yards, including the go-ahead touchdown. Romo spun out of the pocket and found Witten at the Redskins’ 35 with a long pass. Witten outran the speedy DeAngelo Hall for a 59-yard touchdown reception. The touchdown with 8:48 to play in the fourth quarter gave the Cowboys a 24-17 lead.

Jones’ day: Felix Jones made his return to the active roster after missing four games with a left high-ankle sprain. Jones finished with five carries for 18 yards and one catch for 4 yards. DeMarco Murray got the bulk of the carries on the day with 25 for 73 yards. There was a thought Jones would return kicks, something he practiced this past week, but he didn’t.

What’s next: On Thanksgiving Day, the Cowboys will take on the hot Miami Dolphins and their three-game winning streak. The Dolphins started the season 0-7. Ex-Cowboys Kevin Burnett, Marc Colombo and Anthony Fasano are on the Dolphins’ roster.

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GAMEDAY … The Boys Are Back … Cowboys vs Redskins

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

The Boys Are Back … in Washington … NFC East showdown today at noon

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Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins
Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

 The Boys Are Back Bonus

WATCH THE NFL’S PREVIEW VIDEO HERE!

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Can’t catch the ‘boys on TV? Don’t worry … we’ve got your back!

Click HERE for all major network NFL Game Trackers

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Watch the game on TV and listen to the Voice of the Dallas Cowboys over the airwaves.

Check The Dallas Cowboy Radio Network to find a local station.

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Afterwards, listen online to the Postgame show and interviews (Click HERE)!

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PLAYMAKER CHALLENGE: Finding Felix Jones’ role without disrupting DeMarco Murray’s rhythm.

Dallas Cowboys Felix Jones vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys Felix Jones vs. Washington Redskins

Jason Garrett’s toughest task this week is getting Felix Jones involved in the offense without disrupting rookie sensation DeMarco Murray’s rhythm.

It should be pretty easy, right? It will be, if Garrett takes the proper approach.

First, Murray, for now, is the epicenter of the offense, which means he’ll start the game and get the most carries, opportunities, Garrett calls them. This shouldn’t be about series here or there for Felix Jones, it should be about a specifically designed package of plays designed to let him exploit the Redskins’ defense, while accentuating his strengths.

Felix Jones has averaged 41.2 yards on his 11 career touchdowns. He’s a big-play performer, who’s a threat every time he touches the ball.

Of course, that’s why we should see him on kickoff returns this week. Any time he can get the ball in space it’s an opportunity for Jones to make a big play.

Jason Garrett likes Felix Jones because he doesn’t necessarily need a lot of carries to find a groove. You put him in the game, give him a couple carries and he’s ready to break a long one.

The Cowboys failed to score a touchdown in their first game against the Redskins, and their red zone offense has been beyond spotty. Jones represents another weapon; Garrett has to make good use of him.

In an ideal world, Felix Jones will finish today’s game with 8-10 carries, 2-3 receptions and a couple of kickoff returns .

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FLASHBACK: Diamond Dez Bryant makes his return to FedEx Field

 

Dallas Cowboys Diamond Dez Bryant vs Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys Diamond Dez Bryant vs Washington Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — The first time wide receiver Dez Bryant played at FedEx Field he suffered broken ribs at the hands of linebacker London Fletcher and talked smack with and gained a level of respect from cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

It was Bryant’s first game in a Cowboys uniform because he missed the entire preseason with an ankle injury.

He caught eight passes for 56 yards and returned one punt for 11 yards in that loss.

Bryant returns today the healthiest he’s been in a while. He missed one game with a thigh contusion, suffered on a punt return in Week 1.

“To tell you truth what I remember from that game is walking out in the field,” Bryant said Friday. “I see LaRon Landry and I see DHall. DHall is running past me. LaRon Landry looking at me like he just wants to rip my head off. In my head, I’m like ‘I’m on the same field as DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry.'”

Bryant said he loves the one-on-one competition from cornerbacks. He had a fierce verbal affair with the New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis in Week 1. In his first meeting with the Redskins in Week 3, he had four catches for 63 yards, but there wasn’t as much trash talking.

“I’m excited about it,” Bryant said of the game. “I had to come back to reality a little bit. I had to get myself together and play. But I was excited to play against them in my first game. I used to watch them on TV and now I got to go against them. I can’t be too much of a fan.”

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ROB RYAN: Shanahan used to punk me, but not anymore

Dallas Cowboys Rob Ryan

Dallas Cowboys Rob Ryan

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows what to expect when he faces off against Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan on Sunday.

“He’s going to run a stretch play, he’s going to run his boots,” Ryan told reporters this week. “We don’t know what formation or what personnel groups they’re coming from, but they’re coming.”

And there’s a reason Ryan is so familiar with Shanahan’s tactics. Ryan served as the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders from 2004 to 2008, which coincided with Shanahan’s final five seasons as head coach of the AFC West rival Denver Broncos.

During that span, the Raiders and Broncos faced each other 10 times, with the Broncos posting a 7-3 record while averaging more than 23 points per game.

Despite that less-than-stellar track record, Ryan’s confidence was evidently heightened by his defense’s Week 3 performance against Shanahan’s Redskins this season. The Cowboys held the Skins to 16 points and less than 300 yards of offense, including 65 on the ground.

“They always have a great plan, they always give their team a chance, and that’s what we’re doing here on defense. We’re looking forward to that matchup,” Ryan said. “Shanahan, like I said, used to punk me. He doesn’t anymore.”

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RIVAL HEADLINE: LaRon Landry’s achilles injury flares up again


(Jonathan Newton – WASHINGTON POST)

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After missing all of the training camp and the first two games of the regular season, LaRon Landry’s bad Achilles has flared up again. He was unable to practice Wednesday and Thursday and will be a gametime decision Sunday.

“If it was up to me, I’d play on Sunday,” Landry said Friday. “As of right now, it’s out of my hands. I would like to play Sunday. If I don’t, it’s not my decision. So ask coach.”

The anticipated backfield combination of Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe has only been together for four games this year. While Atogwe is expected to return to the lineup Sunday after missing two games, Landry did not sound as hopeful.

Landry initially injured his Achilles last November. Twelve months later, it’s still a problem.

“If it’s sore today, that’s still two days to heal for Sunday. So if you don’t feel that I’m prepared enough to play for Sunday or whatever, it’s not my call, not my decision,” he said. “But as of right now… if they want to let me play, they’ll let me play. If not, it’s not my call.”

“I’m not upset,” he continued. “It’s just frustrating. The Achilles is getting back sore, it’s a big game coming up and if I don’t play, I’ll be kind of hurt behind it. But we got more games left.”

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Courtesy:  | The Washington Post

RIVAL HEADLINE: Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys – Five storylines to follow

Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones will be returning this week ... determined to earn his starting job back from rookie starter DeMarco Murray.

Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones will be returning this week ... determined to earn his starting job back from rookie starter DeMarco Murray.

The Washington Redskins will be trying to end a five-game losing streak Sunday, when they host the Dallas Cowboys.

In their first meeting of the season, the Cowboys edged the Redskins 18-16 on a 40-yard field goal with 1:52 left on the clock.

Since then, the Redskins have gone 1-5 while the Cowboys have won three and lost three. Dallas, who enters the game having won 14 of the last 21 meetings, enters as seven-point favorites.

Here are five storylines to follow in this matchup.

1. The lingering injury bug: The Redskins just can’t shake it. Already shorthanded along the offensive line, the status of rookie Maurice Hurt, who has started the last two games at left guard, remains in doubt as a knee injury has sidelined him this week. Both right tackles Sean Locklear (ankle) and Jammal Brown (groin) are hobbled as well. Injuries have robbed the Redskins of playmakers Santana Moss, Chris Cooley, Tim Hightower and now Leonard Hankerson. On defense, strong safety LaRon Landry says he expects to play although a sore Achilles’ tendon has hampered him all week. But how effective can he be? The defensive line has gotten thin as well, as end Kedric Golston was lost for the season last week. Can the Redskins overcome all of their bumps and bruises to compete with Dallas?

2. Rex’s rebound: Quarterback Rex Grossman makes his second start since reclaiming his job, and Redskins players and his coaches believe that despite his warts (11 interceptions and two fumbles in six games), the nine-year veteran gives them the best chance to win. He can move the offense, but moving it isn’t enough. Grossman & Co. need to find the end zone. During this five-game skid, the Redskins have averaged 10.6 points a game. That certainly won’t cut it against a Dallas team that ranks 10th in the NFL in scoring (24.8 points a game). Can Grossman and his short-handed offense get back on track?

3. Run game: The Redskins’ rushing attack has been missing in action for much of the season, and that’s a big reason why their offense has struggled so mightily. The Shanahans have tried Ryan Torain, gone to Roy Helu, back to Torain and then back to Helu again. Helu provided a bit of a spark (averaging 5.0 yards a carry this season), but with Washington usually playing from behind, the team has had to take to the air. A lack of continuity on the line complicates matters, but the Redskins have to try to find a way to rekindle the rushing attack. In their last three games, the Cowboys have given up 178.7 yards a game and 6.3 yards per carry. Could the Redskins possibly get right this week? Will Tashard Choice get a chance to help his new team as he faces his old team?

4. Run defense: While the Redskins still are trying to get their rushing attack going, the Cowboys have found their workhorse back in rookie DeMarco Murray, who has averaged nearly 19 carries for more than 150 yards rushing in the last four games. The Redskins on the season rank 16th against the run, yielding 120.4 rushing yards a game and need to buckle down this week to keep the Oklahoma product from running wild, which will enable Dallas to string together long, clock-churning drives. Limiting Murray will put more pressure on quarterback Tony Romo to make big plays, which could mean opportunities for interceptions.

5. Armstrong’s opportunity: Last season’s breakout receiver, Anthony Armstrong has yet to rekindle the magic this season thanks largely to limited opportunities. He started the year on a strong note, but got hurt the last time Washington faced Dallas and hasn’t reclaimed a regular spot in the rotation since. Now with Hankerson done for the year, it appears that Armstrong will return to the starting lineup as he remains the best option at that X-receiver position. He would love to shine against his hometown team, the Cowboys, and finally prove to coaches that he shouldn’t have been the forgotten man.

Courtesy:  | The Washington Post

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