Cowboys-redskins Tonight

September 06, 1993|By Vito Stellino

Site: RFK Stadium, Washington, 9 p.m.

TV: Channels 13, 7

Radio: WCAO (600 AM), WTEM (570 AM)

Line: Redskins by 2 1/2

Last week: The Redskins ended their exhibition season with a 17-3 victory over the New York Jets, and the Cowboys lost their finale to the Chicago Bears, 23-21.

Last meeting: The Redskins edged the Cowboys, 20-17, last December in a memorable game that is typical of this storied rivalry. Jason Buck knocked the ball out of Troy Aikman's hands in the end zone late in the fourth quarter and Danny Copeland recovered for the winning touchdown, although the Cowboys argued Aikman's arm was moving forward and it should have been ruled an incomplete pass.

The series: In what may be the best rivalry in the NFL, the Cowboys hold a 36-26-2 regular-season edge, although the Redskins have won the only two playoff games between the clubs (1972 and 1982). This is the fifth time the Redskins have opened their season on Monday night against the Cowboys and they've lost the four previous games in 1980, 1983, 1985 and last year. Overall in Monday night openers, the Cowboys are 7-1 and the Redskins are 1-6.

On the sidelines: Richie Petitbon, the team's former defensive coordinator, makes his debut as head coach of the Redskins, replacing Joe Gibbs. Jimmy Johnson starts his fifth year with the Cowboys and is 32-32. But he's 31-17 since starting out 1-15 in 1989.

What the Redskins have to do to win: Get a big game from quarterback Mark Rypien. It's no secret that the Redskins will go as far as Rypien's arm can carry them this year. He wants to rebound from last year and this game could be a barometer for Rypien's season. He also needs a solid game from Moe Elewonibi, who's replacing Jim Lachey, on Charles Haley and the revamped receiving corps has to make big plays. Ricky Sanders could be the key now that Gary Clark is gone, Art Monk has lost a step and is the third receiver and Desmond Howard has been slowed by a groin injury.

What the Cowboys have to do to win: Get a solid game from rookie running back Derrick Lassic. He doesn't have to win the game in place of Emmitt Smith. That's Troy Aikman's job. The key for Lassic is not to lose it. He has a reputation for fumbling. He also has to gain enough yardage so the Redskins can't ignore the run and play pass against Aikman.

Injury report: Cowboys: WR Jimmy Smith (appendectomy) is out. S Darren Woodson (arm), S Kenneth Gant (shoulder), G John Gesek (foot) are questionable. RB Daryl Johnston (finger), RB Derrick Lassic (knee) are probable. Redskins: TE Frank Wycheck (concussion) is out. LB Andre Collins (knee) is doubtful. T Joe Jacoby (knee) is questionable.

Outlook: The key to the game is how the Cowboys react to the absence of Emmitt Smith. Will they be spurred on to play better to win without him or will they be demoralized? That's why the first quarter should be critical. If the Redskins jump to a quick lead and the Cowboys sputter on offense, doubt should set in among the Cowboys. But if the Cowboys get off to a good start, they'll start believing they can do it without Smith.

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