IRVING, Texas -- Darrell Green admittedly never laid a hand on Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, much less his shoe or sock or ankle.
Smith's 48-yard touchdown run with 3:10 remaining knocked the stuffing out of the Washington Redskins yesterday at Texas Stadium, and made Green a candidate for analysis.
"I'm no expert at analyzing the game as a whole," said Green, the Redskins' right cornerback and the last man between Smith and the touchdown that gave the Cowboys a 27-17 upset victory before 60,355 fans. "But I think as a whole the Redskins never did get a handle on the game. All the credit should to the other side of the ball. As well as wanting it, they played with an intensity that brings about respect."
As hard as that may be to swallow in the Capitol District, Green said that is the state of affairs this Redskins team must deal with after falling to 6-5.
"We had the opportunity sitting there before us -- the possibility of putting a big notch in our belt toward that playoff spot," Green said.
The Redskins are chasing one of three NFC wild-card playoff berths. The Philadelphia Eagles (6-4) and Green Bay Packers (5-5) suddenly are the only NFC teams -- other than the divisional leaders -- with better records than the Cowboys (5-7).
"That makes it disappointing," Green said. "Coming way down here, which I didn't like anyway, and playing on Thanksgiving. I'd rather be with my family.
"And then to lose -- oh, boy."
That's old holiday news for the Redskins, who are perfect 0-4 turkeys against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
The newest twist here concerned the respective teams' running games. Smith, the Cowboys' first-round draft choice out of Florida, carried 23 times for 132 yards and touchdown runs of 48 and 1 yard.
Redskins left cornerback Martin Mayhew anointed Smith "the best back we've faced this year."
Green, the NFL's fastest man, called Smith uncatchable after the play that allowed the Cowboys -- sweating a 20-17 lead -- to loosen their belts.
The Cowboys were looking to eat time off the clock the best way they know how.
"We just gave the ball to Emmitt," Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said.
"It was a basic inside running play," Cowboys guard John Gesek said. "But Emmitt can do a lot in the open field. He makes people look bad in the open field."
First, Smith got help from Gesek and center Mark Stepnoski, who threw the blocks that sprung the rookie. The Redskins had shifted right before the snap, and the Cowboys' offensive linemen double-teamed Redskins defensive tackle Eric Williams. When free safety Todd Bowles raced to the line to fill the gap, Gesek slid off his block of Williams and walled Bowles.
Smith, meanwhile, had cut back across the center of the field and angled toward the left hashmarks. At approximately the 30-yard line, Green entered the chase. Smith slowed and then showed Green his best Barry Sanders stutter-step before shifting into overdrive.
"I just tried to throw him out of sync," Smith said.
"No biggie," said Green, the eight-year pro from Texas A&I. "All it was is I missed a tackle. He looked back at me and knew he couldn't outrun me. It was just a great move. You saw it."
Smith's scoring run was more rushing offense than the Redskins saw all afternoon. The Skins finished with 36 net yards rushing on 15 attempts. Earnest Byner, who on Sunday had carved through the New Orleans Saints for 116 yards on 26 carries, was limited to 39 yards on 14 attempts and a long-gainer of 8 yards. The only other Redskin to challenge scrimmage was wide receiver Art Monk, who was driven out of bounds for a 3-yard loss on a second-quarter sweep right.
Byner declined comment on his performance, which included a 5-yard touchdown on a second-quarter draw play. But Washington's inability to bump-and-grind ultimately prompted Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien to pass, pass, pass.
Fifty-four times Rypien probed the Cowboys' secondary, completing 26 for a respectable 267 yards, an interception, and a 6-yard scoring pass to Ricky Sanders. Sanders, Gary Clark and Monk -- The Posse -- combined for 18 receptions but only 163 yards and the one TD.
"They game-planned us pretty well," said Rypien, who was making his second consecutive start after missing six weeks with a sprained left knee. "They took away the underneath things and usually had two or three guys deep to take away the corner and post routes we had. They played basically soft across the board. And we got into trouble by not getting into third-and-short situations."
That was because the Redskins' running game had been reduced to leftovers.
"I don't think it was Earnest's fault," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "Dallas has whipped us every year. They whip us at home, they whip us all over. We just weren't good enough to get it done today. I think our guys know that."