IRVING, Texas - Though disappointment reigns in Washington early this week, as it does in Dallas, the Redskins and Cowboys have one thing to fall back on: The 2006 NFL season has just begun and despite a Week One loss, both teams are in a three-way tie with the Giants for second place in the NFC East. The Redskins had their shot with 17 seconds left to send Monday's 19-16 loss to Minnesota into overtime, but a 48-yard field goal attempt by John Hall missed wide left, spoiling opening night for a record crowd of 90,608 at FedEx Field.
Sunday evening will mark a return to the peacock network for both teams. The 7:15 p.m. (CDT) kickoff will be the first time either club has played in a game televised by NBC since the network lost its NFL broadcast rights to CBS in 1998. The Cowboys have beaten the Redskins both times the teams met on a Sunday night, though Dallas has lost their last seven Sunday night games.
The Cowboys have won 14 of the last 18 meetings with Washington, including a streak of 10 straight wins from 1997-02, but the era of Cowboy dominance abruptly ended last season when the Redskins swept the Cowboys with a late comeback win in Week Two and a thorough 35-7 beating on Dec. 18.
- The Redskins paid top-dollar for playmaking receiver Antwaan Randle El in the off-season and seem to have added the excitement they were expecting, just not the big-play production. The speedy Randle El had a team high five catches Monday, but only for 34 yards. He did return three punts for 28 yards, however.
- The Vikings' offense converted 9-of-17 third downs, while the Redskins were just 4-of-13 Monday, something Bill Parcells would love to emulate on Sunday. Minnesota also won the time of possession battle, controlling the ball nearly three-and-a-half minutes longer than Washington.
- The Vikings were able to get significant production against the Redskins' special teams. Troy Williamson had a 44-yard kickoff return and Mewelde Moore added a 20-yard punt return. The Vikings' returns led to 10 points.
- Santana Moss continued to threaten cornerbacks downfield against the Vikings, finishing with a team-best 69-yards receiving, including one 37-yard catch on Washington's final drive. Moss scorched the Cowboys for 159 yards in last year's game at Texas Stadium.
If the Cowboys are going to avenge the two embarrassing losses to Washington last year, they're going to have to cover Moss. In Washington's comeback win a year ago, the Redskins' offense looked completely inept until it got touchdown passes of 39 and 70 yards from Mark Brunell to Moss in the final 3:46. In the late-season blowout Moss had 73 receiving yards, though 'Skins tight end Chris Cooley picked up the pace, catching three of Brunell's TD passes. The Cowboys need to get more pressure on Brunell if they're going to shut down the Redskins' passing. They'll be in good shape if they can force Washington to run since Clinton Portis will likely still be favoring the shoulder he injured in the preseason.
Portis had just 10 carries for 39 yards, though he did score on a 5-yard run Sunday night against the Vikings. Redskins backs carried 18 times for just 66 yards in the debut for new offensive coordinator Al Saunders, the mastermind behind Kansas City's prolific rushing game over the last several years. Offensively, the Cowboys obviously will need to avoid the turnovers and penalties that plagued them in Week One against the Jaguars. Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw three interceptions that led to two Jacksonville touchdowns. The Cowboys also committed nine penalties for 93 yards, including one that negated a third-quarter touchdown.
- Cowboys secondary coach Todd Bowles - Played five seasons for the Washington Redskins from 1986-90, earning a Super Bowl XXII ring for the Redskins' 1987 championship season.
- Cowboys assistant head coach/offensive line/running game coordinator Tony Sparano - Spent the 2001 season as the Redskins' tight ends coach.
- Redskins offensive lineman Tyson Walter - Made the Redskins' team as a reserve lineman who can play either guard or center, and has college experience at offensive tackle. Walter, a sixth-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 2002, played 39 games, including nine starts in his three years in Dallas. He was released at the end of the 2005 training camp and spent the year with the Houston Texans.
- Redskins defensive end Demetric Evans - Played for the Cowboys in 2001 and 2002 before joining the Redskins in 2002. Evans, who played 20 games in two years with the Cowboys, enters his third season with the Redskins as a reserve lineman.
- Redskins linebacker Khary Campbell - Spent part of the 2002 season on the Cowboys' practice squad before signing with the Jets later that season. Campbell played in New York two years before signing with the Redskins before the 2004 season.
The Redskins signed veteran tight end Todd Yoder on Tuesday to add depth to a position that already included Chris Cooley and Christian Fauria. To make room on the roster, the Redskins cut running back Nehemiah Broughton . . . The Cowboys own a 31-14-1 record in home openers but have won just two since 2000 . . . Parcells is 15-10 against the Redskins and 13-8 when Gibbs has been the head coach . . . Dallas' 54 wins over Washington ties Arizona for the most victories over any other team in the league . . . The Cowboys are 10-13 in Sunday night games . . . The last Cowboys game broadcast on NBC was a 27-14 Thanksgiving Day loss to Tennessee on Nov. 27, 1997.