Redskins take heart in closing statement

Arrington says win over Dallas may be a turning point

September 21, 2005|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,Sun reporter

ASHBURN, VA. -- Being 2-0 and in a first-place tie atop the division has its merits, but linebacker LaVar Arrington offered another reason for his happiness the day after the Washington Redskins pulled out a 14-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.

"I believe the best thing that could've happened to us in that game last night is we might've found something within those last few minutes of that game," Arrington said yesterday at Redskins Park. "We might've stumbled onto something that could be a special thing. When you have those seasons that could go in the direction of a special season, you get wins like that. It's early, though. We understand that it's going to take a lot to try and continue to win."

Arrington is the local authority on the subject of turning points. His fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers helped Washington rebound from a 0-5 start to an 8-3 finish in 2001.

Monday's thrilling win against the Cowboys (1-1) may carry the same momentum for the Redskins, who are 2-0 for only the second time since 1991 and are tied with the New York Giants for the lead in the NFC East.

Coach Joe Gibbs, who leaped into players' arms as time ran out, was more reserved yesterday, but he compared the win to his three Super Bowl championships.

"As far as competitive athletic wins and having great thrills, this ranks right there with them for me," Gibbs said. "There was so much emotion and everything wrapped in there."

Added offensive tackle Jon Jansen: "It was good to see that side of him. ... I think it was probably an indication of how much stress we've all been under."

Part of that stress stemmed from Gibbs' decision to promote quarterback Mark Brunell over Patrick Ramsey after Ramsey played less than a half in the season opener against the Chicago Bears and the offense's inability to score a touchdown.

Throw in a 13-0 deficit with less than four minutes left in Monday's game, and Washington appeared doomed to lose its 10th straight game in Dallas and its 14th of 15 meetings with the Cowboys.

Then came the re-emergence of Brunell, who looked every bit of 35 years old through the first 56 minutes of the game. In the offense's first nine series, the Redskins gained 179 yards, and Brunell was 15-for-24 for 138 yards, sacked four times and intercepted once.

On the final three possessions, the team posted 167 yards of offense. Brunell went 5-for-10 for 153 yards, sacked once and didn't throw an interception. More importantly, Brunell tossed touchdown passes of 39 and 70 yards to wide receiver Santana Moss in a span of 71 seconds.

"Anything can happen," said Moss, who finished with five catches for 159 yards and seemed to validate Washington's investment of $31 million over six years. "Just knowing that we fought and ended it like that, I think we have a sense now that we can do that early. We don't have to wait so long."

With a bye week, the Redskins will have to wait almost two weeks before the Seattle Seahawks (1-1) visit on Oct. 2 at FedEx Field. That's good news for middle linebacker Lemar Marshall (strained groin) and safety Pierson Prioleau (strained hamstring), both of whom will be limited in practice this week.

The bye week also gives the coaching staff time to focus on ways to cut down on turnovers (five in two games) and penalties (17 for 125 yards). For now though, the players and coaches will enjoy their fast start.

"You kind of go for three quarters like that, and I think the natural tendency would be for guys to say, `Hey, we're not going to get this done,' " Gibbs said. "Instead, I think all the way across the board, they were cheering each other on and pulling for each other. ... I think it was just a tribute to the character and the fight our team has."

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