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Cowboys Nostalgia: The Worst Monday Night Game



vikingsvsgiantshelmets4For all the fines that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hands out, the fact that no one was penalized for Monday night's tilt between the Giants and Vikings is shocking. Neither team managed to tally over 300 yards, there were four turnovers between them, and the star of the game was arguably Giants RB Peyton Hillis...remember the guy who was on the cover of Madden 12? In a game so bad that announcer Mike Tirico flat out said during the 3rd quarter "This is a terrible quarter of football", the Vikings had Josh Freeman, the same Josh Freeman who has completed just 42 percent of his passes this year, throw that ball 53 times, while Adrian Peterson only got 14 carries. I'm sure the fact that Minnesota lost 23-7 had nothing to with that, though.

Statistically, the Giants-Vikings game was the 2nd worst game in the illustrious history of Monday Night Football. According to website Awful Announcing, with a minimum of four games into the season, the two teams had the 2nd lowest combined win percentage of Monday Night opponents coming into the game in the program's history. With the Vikes at 1-4 and the Giants at 0-6, their combined 1-10 mark yielded an .091 win percentage.

Of course, that begs the question...what was the lowest? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2001 Week 5 tilt between the Washington Redskins and your Dallas Cowboys.

If the Dallas Cowboys season by season records were Robert DeNiro's filmography, the 2001 season would basically be Little Fockers. Sure Emmitt Smith was still around, but let's just say when he compared his situation to "a diamond surrounded by trash", he might've had a point. Say what you will about the Dave Campo Cowboys, but at least they were consistent. Campo lasted three years at Valley Ranch and ended each one with an identical 5-11 record. Most, if not all, of the Cowboys faithful knew it was going to be a rebuilding year, but this was just sad. Troy Aikman's retirement opened the door for the next great Cowboys quarterback, who turned out to be....Quincy Carter. A second round pick out of Georgia, Carter's first start was a 9-19, 34 yard, 2 INT performance in Dallas's opening 10-6 loss to Tampa Bay...and things didn't get better. Carter was actually injured for the Boys first prime time game of the year, and quarterback duties went to...Anthony Wright. Wright was actually coming off a solid performance during the previous week's 28-21 loss to Oakland (14-22, 126 yards, 2 TD's), but he eventually became one of the many names between Aikman and Tony Romo. Sandwiched between the Tampa and Oakland losses were embarrassing defeats to San Diego (32-21) and Philadelphia (40-18).

Washington wasn't much better. To say new coach Marty Schottenheimer did not get off to a good start in DC would be an understatement to say the least. The Redskins, too, started 0-4, but their defeats were even uglier than Dallas's. Their closest game had been a 23-9 loss to the Giants the week before. Prior to that, San Diego, Green Bay, and Kansas City had blown out the Redskins by a combined score of 112-16. While they had some good players in RB Stephen Davis, TE Stephen Alexander and CB Champ Bailey, all of whom made the Pro Bowl (in contrast, Dallas only sent legendary OL Larry Allen to the Pro Bowl), they were done in by an inconsistent defense and the perpetually mediocre Tony Banks at QB.

Week 5 of the 2001 season was filled with entertaining games. A young quarterback making his 3rd career start named Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a 29-26 overtime win over San Diego. The St Louis Rams, the eventual NFC champion, survived a 15-14 scare from the New York Giants. In that week's Sunday nighter, Rich Gannon's Oakland Raiders topped Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 23-18 (yes, the Raiders used to play on Sunday night!). The same could not be said about the Monday night tilt between the two 0-4 teams.

As predicted, the game was awful as projected, if not worse. The Washington offense, in particular, resembled Georgetown football more than they did a an actual NFL franchise, especially a proud one like the Redskins. Washington had 10 drives in the game. Seven of the first eight ended in Bryan Barker punts, and the one outlier in that group was a missed 44 yard field goal by K Brett Conway. Dallas's offense at least moved the ball, albeit clumsily. The five first half Cowboys possessions included two Micah Knorr punts, a Wright interception to CB Fred Smoot in Washington territory (the Redskins would go three-and-out on the subsequent drive), and a pair of field goal attempts by K Tim Seder, the second of which sailed through the uprights from 28 yards out, giving the Cowboys the halftime advantage in a 3-0 barnburner. The game's biggest highlight probably occurred during the halftime session, as a Tom Landry statue was unveiled at midfield, one that would stand outside of Texas Stadium until its closing in 2008, and currently stands outside of AT&T Stadium.

While the 3rd quarter consisted of five punts between the two teams, the 4th quarter actually became entertaining. After the quarter began on another Seder miss, this one from 52 yards out, Washington took advantage of the good field position. Starting on their own 42, the Redskins used four consecutive Davis runs, the longest going for 19 yards, to the Dallas 31 where Banks found WR Michael Westbrook to score the game's first touchdown.

The Cowboys drove back into Washington territory, led by Emmitt's 24 yard run, but were forced to settle for another field goal attempt, one that Seder actually made to make it 7-6 with 6:45 to go. As the Redskins got the ball back, they seemed destined to run out the clock, with Davis leading the way with several short but time consuming runs. As they drove to the Dallas 43, Davis picked up another first down, but was stripped of the ball by rookie DT John Nix, a 7th round pick out of Southern Miss. The ball was recovered by Greg Ellis at the Dallas 33, and the stage was set for late game heroics. The Cowboys quickly got into Redskins territory, courtesy of two Wright passes to Darrin Chiaverini and Raghib Ismail of 15 and 18 yards, respectively. A few more Smith runs set up Seder for the win, and he nailed the field goal from 26 yards out to mercifully end the game and give the Cowboys a 9-7 victory. Smith and Davis finished the game with 107 and 99 yards, respectively. In the weeks following the debacle, the Redskins, probably furious they were defeated by a Cowboys team as awful as this, won their next five games and 8 of their final 11 overall to finish 8-8, though one of those loses was to the Cowboys at home on December 2.

So, Giants fans, Vikings fans, and any football fan in general who braved Monday night's dud, just remember that even though you had it bad, you didn't have it as bad as Cowboys and Redskins fans that fateful October night. Whereas you saw Eli Manning and Josh Freeman struggle, we saw Anthony Wright and Tony Banks do the same. Just as a legend like Emmitt Smith was wasted on the 2001 Cowboys, Adrian Peterson suffers the same fate with the 2013 Vikings. So just remember, as eyeball gouging as that game was...and trust me it was awful...never forget the souls who glued their eyes to this matchup that no one should ever speak of again.

Unless you're talking about this column. In that case, feel free to discuss it however you'd like.


Minnesota Vikings v New York Giants

1 Comment
  • JM

    Nice review. I had totally forgotten about that season!

Star Blog

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Jess Haynie



Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys

Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.

The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.

Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.

Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.

Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 1

Hall of Fame CB Deion Sanders

Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.

The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.

Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.

The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.

The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.

Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys 2

Norv Turner also couldn't bring his Cowboys success to Washington. (Brian Bahr/Allsport)

The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.

Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history

Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.

Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.

~ ~ ~

Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.

Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.

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Star Blog

Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

Brian Martin



Cowboys Have Their Version of Tryann Mathieu in Xavier Woods?

It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.

Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.

The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.

Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods

It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.

I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.

Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.

As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.

His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.

Xavier Woods

Dallas Cowboys DB Xavier Woods (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.

Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.

As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.

Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.

Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?

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Star Blog

Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins

Jess Haynie



Orlando Scandrick

Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.

By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.

Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.

Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.

Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.

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