After both teams opened the season 4-1, the Cowboys are now clinging to one of the conference’s playoff spots and the Redskins are virtually out of it as they meet at FedEx Field.
The Redskins snapped a three-game losing streak with a 20-7 win over the New York Giants on Sunday, but they’re virtually out of the playoff picture. Washington would need to win out, and get a lot of help.
A 36-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday gave the Cowboys their first two-game losing streak under coach Bill Parcells and makes it highly unlikely they’ll win the division.
So if Dallas makes the playoffs, it would be as a wild card. The Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks (both 8-5) hold those spots now, with the Green Bay Packers one game behind. Three other teams are two games back.
“We still have a solid chance to get where we want to try to go,” Parcells said. But, he warned, “we need to do something here pretty quickly or that chance is going to be gone.”
Three wins definitely would earn Dallas least a wild-card berth; two probably would be enough.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took time out to praise quarterback Quincy Carter this week, a time when the third-year player could use some positive reinforcement. He told Carter not to let two consecutive poor outings distract him from the three remaining games because Dallas needs to win them all to be guaranteed of making the playoffs.
“He’s playing at a level that has got us with the record we’ve got,” Jones said. “You say you want a quarterback to win, you want a quarterback to basically play at a level that gets you in a position to contend. I look at the overall thing and I think we’ve got to give him his due.”
Carter seemed to click under Parcells, drawing rave reviews for his play as the Cowboys opened 7-2. The big key was minimizing his bad plays and making some good ones.
For instance, in Dallas’ wins, Carter has 10 TD passes and seven interceptions. His ratio is 4-11 in losses.
Carter threw two interceptions in a 36-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
While the Cowboys continue to rely on their starter, the Redskins’ No. 1 quarterback is done for the season. Patrick Ramsey was placed on injured reserve before he undergoes foot surgery within the next two weeks, prematurely ending his first year as an NFL starter.
With the playoffs essentially out of reach, Ramsey stood to gain little by playing with such an injury.
“These games are important, but they’re maybe not quite as important if you were in the hunt for the playoffs, of course,” Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said. “We felt like we needed to get him well.”
With Ramsey out, midseason pickup Tim Hasselbeck will start the remaining three games. Hasselbeck got his first NFL victory Sunday, completing 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Rookie Gibran Hamdan is the only other quarterback on the roster.
Washington defensive end Bruce Smith finally got the NFL career sack record Sunday, passing Reggie White for No. 1 on the all-time list. It took 13 games for Smith to get career sack No. 199. He passed White’s 198 when he sacked Giants quarterback Jesse Palmer.
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Tyrone Crawford DE, Ryan Cook C, Matt Johnson S, Jeff Olson T, Ben Bass DE, Anthony Spencer DE, Brian Waters G, Lance Dunbar RB, Justin Durant LB, DeMarcus Ware DE, Bruce Carter LB, Jason Hatcher DT, George Selvie DE, Brandon Carr CB, Terrance Williams WR, Jarius Wynn DE, Morris Claiborne CB, Ernie Sims LB, Dwayne Harris WR, Sean Lee LB