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Redskins Rejoice: McNabb and Co. Down Dallas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 12: Maiake Kemoeatu #96 of the Washington Redskins celebrates his team's win after the NFL season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on September 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Cowboys 13-7. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

    What were you thinking?

    That will be a common question asked by Dallas fans throughout the week after several mind-boggling decisions led to the downfall of the Cowboys Sunday night in their season opener against the rival Redskins.

    Cowboys vs. Redskins Tailgate Madness

    [DC] Cowboys vs. Redskins Tailgate Madness
    Fans lined up since midnight to get into the parking lot at Fed-Ex field. John Schriffen was right in the middle of the tailgate craziness. (Published Monday, Sep 13, 2010)

    The first mind-bender: What were Tony Romo and Tashard Choice thinking after their combined gaffe at the end of the second quarter that led to a back-breaking touchdown from which the Cowboys never really recovered?

    The second:  What was Alex Barron thinking when he decided to put a bear hug on Redskin Brian Orakpo on the final play of the game -- a penalty that nullified a touchdown pass from Romo to Roy Williams  that would have tied the game, and potentially given the Cowboys the win pending the extra point?

    They were bizarre moments that will be added to the folklore of the historic Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, and ones Washington faithful are thankful for, as they gave the Redskins a 13-7 win in the debuts of Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan at FedEx Field.

    Let's recap the moments that made everyone go "Hmmm...":

    With four seconds left in the first half and the Cowboys on their own 36, Romo dropped back and looked for a Hail Mary.  It was the Redskins, however, that got their prayers answered.  

    Romo was flushed out of the pocket, so he decided to pitch the ball to Tashard Choice.

    Bad choice.  

    The Cowboys' tailback had nowhere to go and should have just fallen to the turf to end the half, but he still tried to make a play -- by running straight into DeAngelo Hall, who stood him up behind the line of scrimmage.  

    The cavalry (i.e. Lorenzo Alexander and Brian Orakpo) came and held up Choice long enough for Hall to strip the ball.  Once the ball popped loose, Hall picked it up and ran 32 yards for a touchdown with no time left on the clock to give Washington a 10-0 lead.

    Fast forward to the final play of the second half.

    The Cowboys had driven down the field from their own 19 and put themselves into position to win the game.  Dallas found itself at the Redskins' 13 with just three seconds left.  Romo took the snap from the shotgun and avoided several Redskins by scrambling out of the pocket.  With time expired, he managed to fire a bullet to the right side of the end zone to a wide-open Williams for an apparent touchdown.

    There was much rejoicing in Texas until the little yellow hankey was spotted on the field.  Replays showed that Romo was able to escape the pocket because Barron, the most-penalized player in the NFL last season, wrapped up Orakpo like a steer at the rodeo.

    The holding call nullified the touchdown and signaled an end to the game.

    And there was much rejoicing in the Washington region.

    Quick Kicks:

    * The Redskins' final drive of the game as they were trying to kill off the clock perhaps showed best what Redskins fans are in for the rest of the season.

    McNabb looked poised in the pocket and was able to team up with veterans Chris Cooley and Santana Moss on two key third-down completions to keep the drives alive.  The drive also showcased an 18-yard scamper by Clinton Portis on a first-and-15.

    The drive ended, however, in part because of an offsides call on No. 1 draft pick Trent Williams on a crucial third-and-2.  The penalty moved the team back five yards, and McNabb couldn't complete a pass to Roydell Williams to extend the drive.  Graham Gano saved his bacon, however, by connecting on a 49-yard field goal to give Washington a six-point lead.

    * Williams, however, played well considering he was going up against players like DeMarcus Ware for most of the evening.  Ware provided a key block on Gerald Sensabaugh in the first quarter that opened up Chris Cooley for a huge gain.  Ware was able to get around Williams several times, pressuring McNabb once and sacking him another.

    * Albert Haynesworth saw limited action in the game and didn't have much of an impact, finishing with one tackle.  His first action came on a second-and-8 play about three minutes into the first quarter.  But perhaps his most memorable moment was when NBC cameras spotted him pacing the sidelines by himself while the rest of the defense huddled up.  He apparently became frustrated when the team pulled him off the field on a Dallas 3rd and 14.