In the first seven games, the Redskins' defense has been starved for big plays. Interceptions, fumbles and sacks have been scarce. Early in the first quarter of Sunday's game against Dallas, middle linebacker Lemar Marshall contributed a 2-point safety to give Washington some momentum.
The play occurred just after Dallas had stuffed the Redskins' offense at the goal line on four consecutive runs.
Dallas took over at their own 1-yard line, and behind them the FedExField end zone crowd roared, forcing a false-start penalty.
Then, the Cowboys ran running back Julius Jones behind left guard, but no one blocked Marshall, who met Jones behind the line of scrimmage. Jones struggled to push ahead and appeared to land right at the goal line.
Referees along the sidelines quickly raised their hands together for a safety, and the Redskins took a 2-point lead.
Replays revealed that Jones had the ball across the end zone line, but his legs were still in the end zone. In any event, Dallas head coach Bill Parcells opted not to challenge the play, and the safety stood as called.
The play gave Washington some needed early-game momentum. On the ensuing drive, the Redskins drove downfield for another score, a 28-yard field goal by Nick Novak.
Marshall finished the game with eight tackles. He has 55 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three quarterback pressures on the season.
Coaches have been looking for Marshall to be more of a force inside this season.
"We are just looking for him to be more comfortable and take charge," linebackers coach Dale Lindsey said earlier this season. "You always have to have a guy who takes charge. He is responsible for so many calls that is what we had to get him to do, is be comfortable doing that.
"We saw him last year when he first started--he made the calls but didn't make the plays. Once he gets comfortable, he can make the plays. This year it should be like second nature."
It was the first safety of Marshall's five-year NFL career.
For the Redskins, it was the first safety since Sept. 14, 2003, when Jessie Armstead sacked Atlanta Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson in end zone at the Georgia Dome.