*The greatest rivalry in professional football has sadly come down to this: a pair of embarrassing images from a week ago. First, the Washington Redskins (5-8), playing in front of a half-empty Fed Ex Field, muff an extra point and squander a chance to send the game into overtime vs. the Tampa Bay Bucs. Then the Dallas Cowboys (4-9) lose a heartbreaker to the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles and their reserve running back Tashard Choice is seen on the field begging Michael Vick for an autographed glove. These aren’t your Daddy’s Skins and Pokes. Somewhere up in heaven, Jack Kent Cooke and Tom Landry are looking down in utter disgust at what these two once-proud franchises have become.
Now granted, the weather was rainy and cold Sunday in Landover. But even still. The proud HTTR Nation, who had a ticket waiting list until the year 2032 when theÂ Skins were in DC, fails to show up in masse to support its team. The product is mediocre, but there honestly is no homefield advantage for the Burgundy & Gold anymore. The old zealots would have shown up even if the apocalypse was coming. Hence, the Redskins have lost four straight at home.
The Super Bowl will be held in Dallas this year. The Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention by Halloween. Funny how things work out that way in sports. Not so funny for the Cowboys’ owner. Jerry Jones spent the budget of Brazil building his playhouse in Arlington. But critics insist it is so expansive and the fans are so far away from the field that there is no sense of a 12th man. People in the upper deck have said they spend much of their time watching the $40,000,000 HD Jumbo Tron. Why bother even going to the game? Hence, the Cowboys have won just one home game this season in their new arena.
For the Redskins, there is little to play for except for job security. Except for Brian Orakpo and Trent Williams, who really is assured of a job next year? Donovan McNabb will set the all-time Washington passing yards record if he remains healthy. But any fan with a midget football mentality knows he has been subpar at best this season. If you take away that last drive against the Bucs, he was abysmal against Tampa Bay the second half. He bounced more balls than every Nationals’ sinkerballer this past major league season. Is Ryan Torain the answer at running back? He looked fantastic with 158 rushing yards in the first half. But even coach Shanny questions his durability and health. The defense is in shambles. The secondary is crippled. The good news: punter Hunter Smith was waived on Tuesday. The bad news: placekicker Graham Gano didn’t get the boot as well.
The Cowboys came into the season with sky-high expectations. The demoralizing last-second loss to the Skins sent an opening-week message that trouble lurked. Tony Romo was driven to the turf six weeks ago and sidelined for the season with a bum shoulder. Wade Phillips was the first coach fired (as predicted here after that week one loss). The team has shown a pulse under interim head coach Jason Garrett. Their two losses under him were to the champion Saints when Roy Williams had the ball snatched away from him late and Sunday’s nailbiter to playoff-bound Philly. Just as Dez Bryant, the man-child returner/receiver, was blossoming, he snapped his ankle against the Colts. The defense has been porous and the Pokes’ kicking game is as feeble as the Redskins.
So which team has more to play for on Sunday in Big D? Honestly, neither team does. Winning games at this point in the season costs you prized draft slots. Fans don’t want to hear that. But it is the reality. If the Skins knew they had a chance at Stanford’s Andrew Luck (who will end up in Cincy when that Bengals team cleans house in a month), don’t you think Washington would tank these last games, eat those draft picks and jettison #5 toward the door?
Even this week’s trivia contest has to do with the draft. It’s the second go-round for the “PICCA WINNER: Redskins’ Trivia/Predict The Score Contest.” Last week’s debut was overwhelming! The winner will once again receive a copy of the best-selling book, “No, I’m Watching Football” by award-winning author Tony Caputo. It is a classic for every sports fan who spends a ton of time watching gridiron action on the tube. (Hint: it makes a great stocking stuffer and Tony will personalize a message on each book!)
It’s a two-part challenge so read carefully: 1) You must answer the trivia question correctly, 2) You must pick the winning team and be closest to the score on both ends. The link to this story must appear on either your Facebook or Twitter WALL to be eligible. (So make sure I am added to one or the other.) You must cut and paste the entry below with your answers in a private email to me (email@example.com). In the event of a tie, the first person to get their entry in wins. Submissions will only be accepted until an hour before kickoff. The winner will be announced in my weekly recap article. The book will be mailed to you. Good luck!
“PICCA WINNER: Redskins’ Trivia/Predict The Score Contest”
Skins’ Trivia Challenge—Who was the first player ever drafted by the Redskins organization? ____________
My Week #15 Prediction — Washington ___ Dallas ____