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Springs Hopes to Lead Turnaround In 'Big D'

Let's face it: 14 out of 15 is about as one-sided as a rivalry can get. So if the Redskins are to start to turn things around against the Dallas Cowboys, they'll need to have their star players at top form on Monday Night.




That means, among others, Jon Jansen and Chris Samuels. Clinton Portis and Marcus Washington. Cornelius Griffin and Santana Moss.

It also means Shawn Springs, a guy who is especially charged up over the opportunity to play on the NFL's big stage.

"We really need this one," says Springs. "I'm hoping to play really well, and I know our defense as a whole is up for the challenge."

A year ago, Springs played about as well as an NFL cornerback can play. He led the defense in sacks (six) and interceptions (five), which is only the third time in league history that a player has been able to do both.

It still bothers Springs that he was merely a third alternate to make it to the Pro Bowl. His teammate, Fred Smoot, made second alternate. Even Smoot admitted that Springs had a better 2004 campaign.

One of the best ways for a player like Springs to get national recognition, of course, is to play well versus Bill Parcells' Cowboys on a Monday night.

In his first year as a Redskin, the 6-0, 204-pound Springs, son of former Cowboy Ron Springs, stepped up against Dallas. In the game at Dallas, he produced eight tackles and two sacks of Vinny Testaverde. Nonetheless, those stats came in a contest the Cowboys managed to win late by a 13-10 count.

"That's one that slipped away," said Springs, part of a defense that allowed Testaverde to find previously unknown wide receiver Patrick Crayton for a 39-yard TD with just 30 seconds left. An agonizing loss, to be sure.

Springs and the Redskins can leave it all on the field on Monday Night at Texas Stadium. They have a Week 3 bye before facing Springs' former team, Seattle, at FedExField on Oct. 2.

As the entire NFL is well aware, a 2-0 start for a team that has already made a quarterback change would be a major accomplishment.

Every player on that Redskins defense feels last year's loss at Dallas is still with them. Only a Monday Night win can help alleviate matters.

"That game sticks with me," admits Redskins assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams. "It's so hard to win in the NFL. To play as well as we played and then on the last couple of plays to let that game slip away from us, that's something our guys talked about all week."

If it's to be one of those reverse-the-curse situations on Monday Night at Texas Stadium, the Redskins will need their big players to lead the turnaround.

As Shawn Springs recognizes, careers are built on these Monday Nighters.

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