OT Cowboys loss creates more 'optimistic' Redskins

BY foxsports • November 21, 2011

Barry Cofield's mood has improved, even though the Washington Redskins' losing streak is one game longer.

A week after he feared the season would turn ''historically ugly,'' the defensive tackle saw enough in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys to feel that the Redskins won't be a shield-your-eyes train wreck the rest of the way.

''I caught some flak for saying we were really down, especially after last week's loss,'' Cofield said Monday. ''But as depressed as I was last week, I'm optimistic this week.''

Washington's offense came to life against the Cowboys, scoring three touchdowns after getting only one in the three previous games combined. If the defense had played just a little better - or if any number of hard-luck breaks had gone the other way - the Redskins (3-7) wouldn't have six straight losses.

Rex Grossman has good games and bad, but he's left little doubt that he's the better choice at quarterback ahead of John Beck. He was solid, even inspiring, on Sunday, leading two-minute-drill touchdown drives in both halves, including the 89-yard march that sent the game to overtime.

''It just gives you a lot of confidence. You're just excited on the sidelines,'' Cofield said. ''You feel like you've got a puncher's chance, and that's all you can ask for. We feel like if our offense scores more than 20 points, we should win.''

If that were the case - if the offense scored more than 20 every game - the Redskins would be 7-3.

Still, the cold hard fact remains that the Redskins are going nowhere this season, with a fourth consecutive last place finish in the NFC a very realistic prospect.

Sunday's game was as crazy as many other editions of the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry, with all sorts of odd moments that fans will fuss about for years to come:

-Was the Cowboys' 39-yard game-winning field goal really good? It was a close call, appearing to sail directly over the right upright. Coach Mike Shanahan said after the game that he's disappointed that the NFL hasn't extended the uprights by another 10 or 15 feet ''so there is no question if a ball goes through.''

After looking at the replay on Monday, he wasn't ready to publicly judge whether the kick was good.

''The guy underneath the goalposts has got the best view in the house, and so you can't argue with his view,'' Shanahan said. ''He's going to make the call he thinks is right.''

- Before the winning field goal attempt, quarterback-holder Tony Romo tried to call a timeout because the play clock was running out. The Cowboys didn't have a timeout remaining, but Romo was bailed out when Shanahan called one to freeze the kicker.

Shanahan said Monday he was looking at the snapper and didn't realize Romo was trying to call time, nor was Shanahan aware that the play clock was about to expire. The coach said he doesn't think there would have been a delay penalty anyway because he felt an official paused the game in momentary confusion over the Cowboys' attempted timeout.

''He stopped the clock before I called timeout,'' Shanahan said. ''He would have had to reset the clock - and no delay of game.''

- Of course, the Cowboys wouldn't have had a chance to kick the winning field goal if Washington's Graham Gano hadn't missed from 52 yards earlier in overtime. Gano has missed an NFL-high eight field goals this season - three were blocked - and his percentage is the worst in the NFL since he entered the league in 2009.

''If you don't take advantage of those opportunities, then you don't kick in the National Football League very long,'' Shanahan said. ''We all know that.''

Shanahan said Gano will remain the kicker ''unless we find somebody that we think will help our football team win that's better than him.''

- Shanahan had to use both of his replay challenges early in the game on a pair of Redskins fumbles. He got one of them overturned, but the one by tight end Fred Davis was upheld - just barely - and was converted into Dallas' opening touchdown.

Shanahan quoted referee Ed Hochuli as explaining it this way: ''If they would have ruled it down, I wouldn't have overturned it. It was that close either way.''

- Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who was beaten on a key pass in overtime, said after the game: ''The way I'm playing right now, they need to go and cut me, because I'm definitely not worth what I'm getting.''

Shanahan doesn't mind that type of attitude.

''That's the mindset you want,'' the coach said. ''I don't like people to get down on themselves, but at the same time I like people to be tough on themselves.''

Notes: A MRI revealed that LT Trent Williams has a mild MCL sprain in his left knee. Shanahan called it a ''good sign'' and that ''there's a chance'' Williams will play Sunday at Seattle. ... CB Josh Wilson has a mild hamstring injury. ... WR Santana Moss (broken left hand) might return this week after missing four games. ''I'm just going to go out there and try to practice and hope it feels the way I want it to feel,'' Moss said.


Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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