The Cowboys had won five straight for their longest winning streak since 1994.
Sunday was an opportunity for the Cowboys to make a statement against the defending Super Bowl champions, according to coach Bill Parcells.
“That was a chance to really get ourselves established,” Parcells said, “and we weren’t able to do it.”
A win would’ve given the Cowboys more wins than in each of the last three seasons with more than half the schedule left to play. Dallas still leads the NFC East by a game over Philadelphia, a team it has already beaten, and is 2-0 in division play.
“I think it needs to hurt a little bit,” Cowboys tight end Dan Campbell said after Sunday’s loss. “It’s a good reality check. I think it’ll open our eyes. It should really let us know if we don’t play a perfect game, we can’t win.”
Dallas has won seven straight at home against Washington dating to a 24-17 loss to the Redskins on Dec. 3, 1995.
The Cowboys hope to establish the run this week after being stifled against the Buccaneers, gaining a season-low 60 yards on 22 attempts. Running back Troy Hambrick led the Cowboys with 25 yards on 11 carries.
The Cowboys signed veteran Adrian Murrell to help bolster the running game. Murrell, whom Parcells coached with the New York Jets in 1997, hasn’t played since the 2000 season, though he was with Dallas in training camp.
Washington is dealing with its own running back problems, as its top two rushers are injured.
Betts won’t play because of a broken arm, and it’s unexpected for Canidate to play even though he’s listed as questionable. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier suggested he might use a mix of return specialist Chad Morton and fullback Rock Cartwright in the backfield.
Washington, which has lost three straight after a 3-1 start, also has issues with its quarterback depth.
After releasing Rob Johnson last week, Spurrier wanted Danny Wuerffel—his former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida—to return as the backup for Patrick Ramsey. Wuerffel said no, preferring to remain with his expectant wife and continue ministry work in New Orleans.
Spurrier was unhappy when Snyder cut Wuerffel before the start of the season, leaving the team with just Ramsey and Johnson. Johnson and Spurrier never hit it off, so now the only alternatives if Ramsey gets hurt are two players who have never thrown a pass in the NFL—newly signed Tim Hasselbeck and practice squad rookie Gibran Hamdan.
“If we had to play one of our backup guys, it’d be just to try to get through the ball game,” Spurrier said.
That’s emerging as a realistic possibility as Ramsey has been sacked 22 times this season, and had to leave the Redskins’ last game with a bruised hip and throwing hand.
Also out for the Redskins on Sunday are cornerback Fred Smoot (broken sternum) and guard Dave Fiore (sore knee). Defensive tackle Jermaine Haley hopes to return with a modified cast on his broken thumb.