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On Defense, T.O. Proved To be Too Much


When it comes to facing high-flying offenses, the Redskins' defense is certainly battle-tested.

They drew from their experiences of playing top offenses in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys, who have the NFL's second-ranked offense.

In the first half, the Redskins' approach proved effective. The defense handled Dallas, limiting quarterback Tony Romo and the Cowboys to just one touchdown late in the second quarter.

It was a different story in the second half. Romo and wide receiver Terrell Owens seemingly took over the game.

The duo connected on touchdown passes of 31, 46 and 52 yards in the second half to open up a 28-16 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

The Redskins rallied, but the Cowboys held on for a 28-23 at Texas Stadium.

With Sean Taylor sidelined with a knee injury, the Redskins continued to use the Cover 2 scheme against the Cowboys. Reed Doughty started in place of Taylor, but otherwise the secondary remained intact from last week.

Owens proved to be an effective weapon against the Cover 2 zone. He caught eight passes for 173 yards, and four touchdowns overall.

Shawn Springs had a tough afternoon. He was involved in coverage on three of Owens' four touchdowns.

"He had a great game," Springs said of Owens. "In the second half, [Owens] and Tony Romo hooked up for some big plays down the middle in our zone coverage. They found a crease and exploited us when we were in zone."

Added Leigh Torrence: "He took the team on his shoulders and made plays. We needed to find a way to stop him. We had flashes, but we missed a chip coverage on him. We knew they were going to him."

London Fletcher, who logged a team-high seven tackles and an interception, refused to let the absence of Taylor serve as an excuse.

"You've got 11 guys you're going to play with," he said. "These are the 11 you play with. Sean is a big part [of the defense]. But the linebackers have responsibilities. The cornerbacks and safeties have responsibilities. It's not just one guy.

"We gave up too many plays in the second half. We're just not playing our coverage the way it was designed to be played."

The Redskins have faced several potent offenses this year.

In consecutive weeks earlier this season, the Redskins faced off against the top-ranked offenses of the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers.

The Redskins held their own against the Lions and Packers, but two weeks later, the New England Patriots' top-rated offense dominated in a 52-7 rout.

"Each week, there is a different challenge, a different personnel matchup we have to plan for," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. "[The Cowboys] are a different style from an offensive concept standpoint, but we have been playing some very good quarterbacks and we have been playing some very good receivers."

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