It's Dallas Week again. And this time, it means plenty. The 7-6 Redskins and 8-5 Cowboys will square off this Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET, at FedExField.
In Week 2 of this season, the Redskins and Cowboys played on Monday Night Football in one of the more memorable regular season games between the two teams.
Entering that game, Dallas had won 14 of the last 15 games in the series and seemed to find news ways every year to beat the Redskins.
In the fourth quarter of the Sept. 19 contest, Dallas had a 13-0 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Then the Redskins launched a dramatic comeback.
Quarterback Mark Brunell threw two touchdown passes, including a 70-yarder, to wide receiver Santana Moss to give the Redskins a stunning 14-13 win.
The comeback was the latest salvo in a series that has had its share of drama and memorable moments.
Do the Redskins expect Dallas to come into FedExField with a chip on their shoulder?
"Absolutely," Brunell said. "They'll watch the film and we'll watch the film. We'll all take something from it. But it's a new ballgame. That game happened at the beginning of the season. The stakes are obviously much higher now. We'll need to make some big plays again and we'll have to run the ball well to win."
Added head coach Joe Gibbs: "We know that, in the last two years, we have battled Dallas three times and there have been two miracle finishes and the other went down to the last play. You have to say that with both of these teams, you know how the game is going to be played."
The two long-time rivals haven't played a late-season game with playoff ramifications for both teams since Dec. 13, 1992.
That year, the Redskins had an 8-4 record and were in the thick of the playoff hunt, while the Cowboys had an 11-2 record and were in first place in the NFC East.
The Redskins upset the Cowboys at RFK Stadium by a score of 20-17.
It was Joe Gibbs's last Redskins-Cowboys game before his retirement in March 1993 and subsequent return in January 2004.
-- BRUNELL'S ASSESSMENT
After reviewing his performance in Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Mark Brunell was tough on himself.
The veteran quarterback made some uncharacteristic throws in the first half and finished the game with 18-of-28 completions for 122 yards and three interceptions. His QB rating was a season-low 34.2.
Brunell even criticized himself for his first interception, a pass to H-back Chris Cooley that was tipped in the air and picked off by cornerback Antrel Rolle. Brunell called the pass to Cooley a bad decision, although Joe Gibbs would say later that he felt it was a "well executed play." Brunell had rolled left and had wide receivers Santana Moss and Taylor Jacobs running routes on the same side of the field.
Brunell's other two interceptions were a combination of errant toss and miscommunication between the quarterback and receiver, according to Gibbs.
The first was a pass to Ladell Betts picked off by cornerback David Macklin and the second was a pass to the end zone to Cooley that was intercepted by safety Adrian Wilson.
Perhaps most frustrating for Gibbs and Brunell was that all three of his interceptions came in the red zone.
"The first half was frustrating," Brunell said. "But when bad things happen, you fight through them. You keep your head up. I was impressed with guys--they all stuck together. No one was yelling."
The offense came out in the second half and put together an impressive 13-play, 80-yard opening drive culminated by a 15-yard touchdown run by Clinton Portis.
"We came out with that first drive, scored a touchdown--and then it became a brand new ballgame," Brunell said. "Then we got that kickoff return. Things can change really quick in this game."
Added Gibbs: "It was a crucial part of the game and we needed to get momentum back. I think we came out with a real determination. Our guys really went after it in the second half, particularly on that drive."
-- REDSKINS FANS INVADE ARIZONA
Joe Gibbs said he was "shocked" to see the turnout of Redskins fans at Sun Devil Stadium for Sunday's 17-13 win over the Cardinals.
At various points of the game, fans sang "Hail to the Redskins" and cheered "Let's Go Redskins." At one point, several Redskins defensive players waved their arms to get fans to create crowd noise--against the Cardinals.
Toward the end of the game, fans chanted "We Want Dallas."
Said Gibbs: "At first I was looking around and thinking, 'What are they cheering?' I thought it was something the Cardinals had done, but we were the ones doing something good.
"I appreciated it. They were all dressed up and ready to go. That takes guts in another team's stadium."