LANDOVER, Md. (AP)—After an especially tough dose of Bill Parcells, the entire Dallas Cowboys defense went out for a Friday night steak dinner and relieved some in-house tension.
Two days later, the Cowboys shut out the Washington Redskins for the first time in 32 years.
Rookie Terence Newman tied a team record with three interceptions, Pete Hunter had two fumble recoveries and an interception, and Troy Hambrick ran for a career-high 189 yards Sunday to power the Cowboys to a 27-0 victory.
“It was just a night out, a good break after two weeks of getting slammed the way we have defensively,” safety Darren Woodson, reflecting on the two-hour outing called by linebacker Al Singleton.
“I’m not saying we’ve been going at each other, but I think there’s been some tension amongst ourselves because we haven’t been playing that well. There was a lot of pressure on us. Al just wanted us to get way and relax, because it has been pressure-filled at practice.”
In the mud and driving rain, the Cowboys held Washington quarterback to Tim Hasselbeck to a rock-bottom 0.0 quarterback rating and allowed just 161 total yards, including 37 in the second half.
Not bad for a team that had lost two straight by a combined 45 points. Parcells rode his team hard after last week’s 36-10 loss at Philadelphia, but he still has the Cowboys (9-5) in solid position for a wild card berth in his first season with the team.
“I kind of put their backs against the wall a little bit,” Parcells said. “And they responded well.”
But even a Parcells serving of misery can’t match the feeling in the Redskins’ locker room. The loss eliminated Washington (5-9) from playoff contention and guaranteed a second straight losing season. They have lost 12 of 13 against the Cowboys.
“It isn’t about quitting, it’s about getting embarrassed. We got embarrassed,” cornerback Fred Smoot said. “We stunk it up out there. I apologize to all the Redskins fans—every one of them.”
The Redskins hadn’t been shut out at home in 10 years. Coach Steve Spurrier was held scoreless in a regular season game for the first time since he was with Duke in 1987, and he opened his news conference with tongue-in-cheek references to his punter and kicker.
Hasselbeck was 6-for-26 for 56 yards, four interceptions and numerous batted balls at the line of scrimmage in his third NFL start. Dat Nguyen and Greg Ellis knocked down back-to-back passes on one stunted drive in the third quarter.
Two of Newman’s picks were poor throws, while the third was tipped his way by Darien Woodson. One of his interceptions set up a touchdown and another led to a field goal. Most of the Redskins offense came from Rock Cartwright’s career-high 94 yards rushing.
Hambrick ran through gaping holes of 12 and 15 yards on Dallas’ opening drive and had a workhorse 13 carries out of 15 plays over three drives to put the game away in the fourth quarter. His last run was a 42-yard scamper to set up the Cowboys’ final touchdown, giving him the third all-time best rushing game by a Dallas back behind Emmitt Smith’s 237 in 1993 and Tony Dorsett’s 206 in 1977.
“I’m there, you can write it in stone,” Hambrick said. “This is a big year for me to try to solidify myself as a running back in the NFL. I think I’ve been pressing a lot trying to get the job done, and tonight was my condition and type of weather.”
The Cowboys scored a touchdown on their first drive, the first time that’s happened all season. Hambrick’s runs set up a well-blocked screen to fullback Richie Anderson for a 21-yard score.
Hasselbeck’s second interception—an overthrow into Newman’s hands—set up the Cowboys’ second touchdown. Dallas got the ball at Washington’s 9-yard line and scored three plays later when Carter strolled in on a bootleg, giving the Cowboys a 14-0 halftime lead.
Billy Cundiff kicked two field goals in the second half, and ErikBickerstaff capped the scoring with a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Washington executed a fake punt in the second quarter, with punter Bryan Barker completing a pass to safety Ifeanyi Ohalete. The drive eventually ended with a Hasselbeck interception. … Injuries: Washington LT Brandon Winey (knee) and S Matt Bowen (knee). … Last shutout in the series: Dallas 13-0 in 1971. … Last Redskins home shutout: 3-0 to the Jets in 1993. … Spurrier’slast shutout: 7-0 against Rutgers in 1987.