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For the Redskins' Defense, the Sack Is Back

How fitting it was that veteran defensive Phillip Daniels came up with his four sacks against the Dallas Cowboys. Daniels became linked with two former Redskins who are among the biggest Cowboy nemeses of all time.




When Daniels produced four of the Redskins' seven sacks in Sunday's 35-7 thrashing of the Cowboys at FedExField, he tied Washington's single-game record. Dexter Manley had four sacks versus the Giants in 1988; Diron Talbert had done so against the same team in 1975.

During their careers, both Manley and Talbert professed a distaste for all things related to the Cowboys. As such, they were their Darrell Armstrongs of their day. Manley is expected to be on hand Saturday when the Redskins host the NFC East-leading New York Giants in the most significant regular-seasons contest ever played at FedExField.

Sunday night's seven-sack performance by the Redskins pushed their sack total to 30 for the season, one more than their opponents. Last year, the Redskins totaled 38 sacks on their way to the No. 3 defensive rating in the NFL.

"On defense, we played very physical and very hard," head coach Joe Gibbs said after the Redskins swept Dallas for the first time since 1995. "The defensive line played extremely well. A lot of players over there were scrambling all over the place. We got real pressure on the quarterback.

"When we got the turnovers, we took advantage of them and often scored. That was a big deal. It emphasizes how important that part of the game is. The defense played very physical, strong and with a lot of speed."

The FedExField crowd of 90,588 witnessed a physical beating from start to finish. "The better team obviously won," Bill Parcells said.

For his efforts, Daniels was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday.

Daniels, the 6-5, 290-pound former Seattle Seahawk and Chicago Bear, entered the game with just two sacks in 2005. He went on to have a career game versus Dallas left tackle Torrin Tucker, the 6-6, 315-pound third-year player from Southern Mississippi. Tucker has taken over at left tackle following the season-ending injury to Flozell Adams.

"This was just a big day, the biggest of my career. It was a matter of going out and playing without fear," Daniels said. He wanted to come up with a special game to coincide with the 13th birthday of his son, Davaris. Mission accomplished.

Twice in his 10-year NFL career, Daniels has had nine-sack seasons. Those came with Seattle in 1999 and Chicago in 2001. He had played in 137 regular-season games in the NFL, none like Sunday night's. "This is going to be a day," Daniels said late Sunday evening, "that I remember for the rest of my life."

Ten sacks in a game is three short of the Redskins' all-time mark. They posted 10 in an Oct. 9, 1977 10-0 win at Tampa Bay. They came in bunches Sunday night.

For the Redskins, the sacks are starting to come. There were three at St. Louis, two at Arizona and an incredible seven versus the Cowboys in the game that sets up the Christmas Eve showdown at FedExField.

If the Redskins are to bounce back from that 36-0 Week 8 pounding they took at the Meadowlands, they'll have to find ways to pressure Eli Manning and to protect Mark Brunell.

In their attempt to run the table after falling to 5-6, the Redskins are three-fifths of the way home. Five-game win streaks are not easily achieved in the NFL but the 2001 Redskins did just that after opening 0-5. It has to be said that the 2005 group is a more talented one, particularly now-with sacks as part of the arsenal once again.

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