Although the Dallas Cowboys offensive unit spent the last six or seven minutes of last night’s game against the Washington Redskins beating the living crap out of the ‘Skins defense, it was a close contest which featured very little offense at all up until that point. The offenses on display were at best tame and the punters earned their paychecks. (And hopefully the Dallas punter’s paycheck is only $100 a week because that is definitely all he is worth, unless he is also the cook or something like that. Thirty-five yards with a two-second hang time is not much to write home about, but if you bring an assortment of exotic soups and sauces to the table, I suppose Jerry Jones might have had to take a hard look.)

These are a couple evenly matched teams with pretty good defenses, is what it all boils down to. If they played each other 10 times, each would win five games.

Thank goodness the Cowboys won because if they hadn’t their playoff chances would be nil. Not to say at this point they deserve to be in the postseason, because an offense with so little explosive potential is not going to scare anybody in January.

Granted, tonight was not a great one for passing. It was cold as hell at Fed Ex Field, and windy also. I could understand all the guys in the parking lot winging footballs around: They had been drinking for hours, so Mother Nature was to them no more than an abstract notion on the peripheries of their mental fog bank. But I am certain the players in the game had not been drinking hardly at all, and no one sober on national television would have felt remotely competent to pitch-and-catch at anything further than five yards.

Fortunately, Tony Romo returned from missing three games with an injured finger and did manage to complete some passes when it counted. And then when the time came at the end to run down the clock and preserve the 14-10 lead, Marion Barber and the offensive line did the job.

After approximately 12 consecutive Marion Barber runs, this is how the Washington defense looked. Note the slumped shoulders. If I had a better zoom, you would be able to see them panting for breath.
Cowboys vs Redskins November 16 2008 1

This is how the scoreboard looked.
Cowboys vs Redskins November 16 2008 2

And a minute later, this is how the field looked. You can see Tony Romo at the bottom just before he was besieged by the media interviewers.
Cowboys vs Redskins November 16 2008 3

Here is the first Washington press report.

Here is the Dallas report.

A few more observations:

-Terence Newman, also back from injury, played an outstanding complete game at corner. He had an interception, a critical break up, a couple important quick tackles and generally blanketed Santana Moss. This will be a huge bonus for the remainder of the season if he doesn’t get hurt again.

-Towards the end, with the ‘Skins on offense on third down, Newman motioned both arms up, as in “pump up the volume to make it difficult for the offense” – and the audience responded awfully loudly, for a visiting team. Yes, there were many Dallas fans in the stadium. Twenty years ago, at RFK, such a thing would have been as likely as garden gnomes taking over the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

-We were fortunate enough to get a pass for one of the stadium parking lots, which it turns out can take a REAL long time to get out of after the game. Unsurprisingly Redskins faithful are keenly aware of this fact, and therefore many have developed a tradition of post-game tailgating, or what seasoned alcoholics might recognize as the “second wind” phenomenon. They fire up the grill again, break out the bottles of whatever, and camp out until the wee hours of the morning. So here’s an idea matching social reality with public safety: Cheap hotels right next to the stadium. These could be really cheap – tent cities if you will – but I guarantee if there was a way to say, “Come party before the game, then party after the game, and crash here” there would be lots of takers.

-It was genuinely inspiring to see the level of friendliness between Dallas and Washington fans. Lots of them were in the same groups. Driving out, we saw a guy in a Redskins jersey grab an obviously intoxicated friend in a Dallas jersey and whisk him across the street under the gaze of Prince George’s County’s finest. Back when I used to go to RFK wearing Dallas Cowboys gear, I always felt like I might be in for a scrap. Not so anymore. We are evolving as a species.