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For Redskins, Time To Embrace Spoiler Role?



No, no, no. Not the role for us, the Redskins said last week.

We will win for the sake of winning. We will win for us. We will win because, well, we want to win, not because we want the other guy to lose. We are here for our success, not to create failure for others.

Very noble. Very high-minded. Kind of that "art for art's sake" mentality.

They did not win for the sake of winning. They did not win for us, for them, for anyone. They did not win or play as if they wanted to (win or play), nor did it seem to matter against the New York Giants whether the Giants won. The Redskins created failure for themselves.

That 45-12 loss to the Giants on Monday is a day old, and as bitter and flat as the beer mopped from the stands at FedExField. The stadium holds 91,704, attendance was 78,359 and the no-show number should be raised by about another 80. It needs to include the Redskins.

They did not get up for a Monday night game. Against a division rival. Having not won a division game this season. Despite winning on the road for the first time the previous week.

"It was surprising. It was not expected," head coach Jim Zorn said Tuesday at his afternoon news conference. "After it was over, everybody was a little shell-shocked."

He was in early, as per usual. He watched the film. Imagine undergoing root canals on your eyes.

"It was very hard to deal with as I watched the video," Zorn said.

Last week was hardly a normal week, though around here the standard for normal boasts an enormous elasticity. Long-time personnel honcho Vinny Cerrato resigned, a new general manager (Bruce Allen) stepped in immediately and rumors flew endlessly about the potential for coaching changes and who on the current staff might interview for the position Zorn currently occupies.

Players truly did seem distracted by the upheavals, even after long months that included a preposterous number of injuries, the arrival of an offensive consultant (Sherm Lewis), the stripping of Zorn's play-calling duties and the resulting situation where Lewis calls pass plays, offensive coordinator Sherman Smith calls run plays and Zorn chips in the two-minute drill.

Yet the truest words about Monday night came from fullback Mike Sellers when he said, "We didn't show up."

Well, there was quite a bit of snow. The Redskins sent their regrets. They just couldn't make it. Maybe next time.

Now we know what has been spoiled. A six-week stretch of improving, if not winning, football. Any chance of avoiding a 10-loss season or worse. This after having already clinched last place in the NFC for a second consecutive season and third in four years.

Now the Dallas Cowboys come to visit. This is Dallas Week. Also a short week of preparation, rehab and building to an emotional boil (as if).

The advice from this corner -- embrace the spoiler concept. Get with it. This game against Dallas matters. It figures in numerous playoff permutations, it matters for self-respect and for national image, which took a serious bruising all season long and a nearly-fatal blow Monday night.

If the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the slumping Denver Broncos and the Redskins beat the Cowboys, the Eagles win the NFC East. There's no good reason to help the Eagles, but why not hurt the Cowboys?

The Green Bay Packers clinch a playoff berth with a victory against the moribund Seattle Seahawks, if the Redskins beat the Cowboys. There's no good reason to help the Packers, but why not hurt the Cowboys?

The Cowboys clinch a playoff berth with a win if the New York Giants lose at home to the mediocre Carolina Panthers. Why not hurt the Cowboys?

"We know we aren't going to the playoffs but we're playing for jobs, we're playing for pride, we're playing for each other," safety Reed Doughty said.

Wow, the Redskins fooled everyone. Including themselves. Enlightened self-interest moved them not one bit.

Beating the Cowboys carries its own rewards. It is the Redskins' most intense rivalry and it is another shot on national TV. Jobs, pride, each other, that didn't seem to matter against the Giants. Maybe it will now and maybe it won't.

Take the charitable view, fellas Ask not what you can do for yourselves. Ask what you can do for others ... and to the Cowboys.

Larry Weisman covered professional football for USA TODAY for 25 years and now joins the Redskins Broadcast Network and to bring his unique viewpoint and experience to Redskins fans. Go to for the Redskins Blitz column and NFL Blitz on Friday. Larry also appears on The Jim Zorn Show on WRC-TV on Saturday night, on Redskins Nation, airing twice nightly on Comcast SportsNet, and on ESPN 980 AM radio, all in the Washington, D.C. area. Read his blog at and follow him on

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