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Keys to Redskins' 13-7 victory over Cowboys

On Sunday night we saw a Washington Redskins team show the whole league the blueprint of how to beat the Cowboys.

Let's start with Donovan McNabb and the offense. Although the stats were not staggering, the offensive line did a better than average job of blocking for McNabb, Trent Williams did a very commendable job against DeMarcus Ware, which was a must if the Skins were going to have a chance to win. McNabb also pulled the ball down and escaped the pressure when there were no other options. As a result of solid blocking and McNabb's scrambling ability, he was sacked only once.

McNabb seemed to be able to identify when mismatches, such as Chris Cooley being covered by a linebacker or a defensive lineman spying him in the passing game, and that resulted in some offensive success. The running game was not what it needed to be, but Clinton Portis had some unbelievable blocks in the passing game and came up big with a crucial fourth-quarter run to keep a very important drive alive.

Special teams provided crucial points in the kicking game, Graham Gano was 2 for 2 when the snaps and holds were good. Coverage teams were solid also, even when punts weren't.

But the biggest key to the game was this defense. They banged with Dallas for 60 minutes and provided Washington's only touchdown of the night when DeAngelo Hall scooped up a fumble and returned it for six points. This defense held Dallas under 100 yards rushing and totally shut down every receiver except Miles Austin, which appeared to be Jim Hasslet's game plan. Stop the run, take Jason Witten, Roy Williams, and Dez Bryant out of the game, pressure Tony Romo and make him win it with his arm with Austin as his only available target. It worked to perfection.

LaRon Landry had a very active game with a game-high 17 tackles. Landry's strengths are big hits and tackling. He was put in position to do just that. Not to be outdone, Brian Orakpo was double- and triple-teamed all game and was still the most disruptive force on the field. But my MVP honor goes to DeAngelo Hall. He has been our playmaker since arriving in D.C. and it was no different last night. He covered, he tackled, and he scored the Redskins' only touchdown.

The Redskins will have to figure out a way to get touchdowns on offense and run and pass the ball more effectively if they want to be competitive, but this game begins what looks to be a promising season. This was a great win for this Washington Redskins.

By LaVar Arrington  |  September 13, 2010; 9:28 AM ET
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Next: Trent Williams held his own against DeMarcus Ware


Finally our defense has learned to punch and rake at the ball when tackling!! Landry gets a pass on his 4th qtr INT drop since it was a bullet that he didn't see until late... Welcome back Carlos "Stone Hands" Rogers!!

Posted by: mrlowery1 | September 13, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't take a washed up has been football player to tell us that the key to that game was penalties. The skins got lucky for sure although it was a marked improvmnet over past years and it is something to build on. I will agree the defense showed up and were hittin people.

Posted by: efdelaney | September 13, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

It's so obvious that Landry belongs at Strong, no matter who is playing deep behind him. As an aside, that penalty against London Fletcher for a late hit was total BS.

Posted by: yampaco | September 13, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

@efdelaney....who's column are you reading? He said the key to the game was defense. As a matter of fact, i don't see the word penalty or penalties anywhere except your moronic post. Stop hating and making excuses for the most overrated team in football. ESPN boards are good for that.

Posted by: yampaco | September 13, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

On defense, it seemed everyone played well except Reed Doughty, while DeAngelo Hall, Bryan Orakpo, LaRon Landry and London Fletcher played exceptionally.

Posted by: csh2000 | September 13, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

The Skins game last night was consistent with their games from last year. They DID NOT beat the Cowboys. The Cowboys beat the Cowboys.

This team is going to continue to stink up the field until Snyder is fired! The main problem with the team is Snyder and until that gets fixed this team will remain broken.

Posted by: Ayatoldyaso | September 13, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

LaVar, why were you such a selfish teammate during your playing days? You constantly free lanced and complained. You should be humbled by your failings but instead you are still the same old ego maniac that was a complete bust in the NFL.

Posted by: hughesbob19 | September 13, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"Until Snyder is fired"....?Huh? Last time I checked, owners "very rarely" fire themselves from ownership, genius. Think you meant "Until he sells the team".

That said, great effort last night from all (except Doughty and Bidwell). Bidwell cost us 10 points and Doughty couldn't keep up with Austin all night.

We lose last night if Campbell is still here - thanks god he isn't. Although McNabb wasn't perfect, his brains and legs helped us out of a world of hurt.

It'll be interesting next week vs the Houston Fosters. HTTR

Posted by: t_ewers | September 13, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Hail to the Redskins !!

Good :

Offensive line did great.
QB was poised
Portis did a great job of blocking and was good at consistently carrying the ball.
Coaching was great.
Great to see all the skins fans having so much pride in their team. Awesome!!!
Cooley was great.
Defense did a good job

Need improvement:
We need leadership on the field specially on defense.
Blitzes until the last minute did not have much impact
Big Dadddy Haynesworth needs to improve and stop pouting...enouh, this is a team game
Lets move on to the next game.

Posted by: maz3 | September 13, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

It was good to see the Skins win a close game, they didn't roll over and die in the 4th quarter.

Regarding the weak analysis by Ayatoldyaso above, he just doesn't get it. The skins clearly put the cowgirls in a position to make mistakes- that is called a game plan. Also, Ayatoldyaso is a really crappy handle. He should blog on some scuzzy cowgirls website with queer nicknames like his.

Posted by: Jfat | September 13, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Been Going to games for a long time and that is the most elctric I have seen the fans in a long time. It was crazy!!!! The defense really stepped up and punched them right in the mouth. I agree with the earlier post of the penalty on London that was BS!!!! Big Daddy played well but I think he should have been in there more Kemotomau did not impress me much they ran right at him and he couldn't stop it but when big daddy was in there he stopped it he was always around the ball so I agree he needs to stop pouting and play football like he knowas how too.

Posted by: bert3 | September 13, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

LaVar's columns are refreshing and timely. He writes authoritatively and well. Let's have more of 'em.

Posted by: AncientTerp | September 13, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to find out who got the worst grade on Defense yesterday... from the uninformed mind I would say Reed Doughty... he was a step slow in getting to the right positions and seemed to be the one letting Miles Austin look like Mike Irvin out there. I hope Kareem Moore gets healthy real fast... other than not biting on any double moves I think he had a game he would rather not remember.

Posted by: samiismoni14 | September 13, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Who is going to discover who Lavar's ghostwriter is? I heard him discuss almost the exact same points on his radio show and it was hardly understandable.

Posted by: MKadyman | September 13, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Deangelo Hall was a playmaker in college, at Virginia Tech. ()()()()()()()()

Posted by: naahbob | September 13, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse


If you find this column so irritating and dont like a former player's observations, then why the hell are you reading this?!....zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by: semilost44 | September 13, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

I doubt we get that solid of a defensive effort on a weekly basis and I doubt our offense will stink like they did. Nice to beat the Cowgirls to get the season off right. Build on it.

Posted by: hand_of_doom | September 13, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

now that NFL has started lets talk about football and move away from merits or lack of merits of LA

Posted by: mazbar | September 13, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Hey, morons who come here to bash LaVar...

Go comment on Greg Blatche's page. Go comment on the Bandwagon Saint's page and tell them how great Gregggg Williams is. Why put yourselves forward as Redskin fans? If you consider LaVar Arrington a bust, you must be a weird fan, indeed. Perhaps you're a Dallas fan. Maybe you're a fan of defensive systems, hearsay, media hype, or of fat, self-important wannabe head coaches? Fine. Go post there.

When all the "freelance" dookie was flying around in the press, I never believed it. Please. Freelancer? LaVar Arrington? A lot of great players make plays that were not drawn up in a pencil jockey's book.

Was Sean Taylor a freelancer?
Was Jerry Rice? Catching balls with one hand... unforgivable!
How about Steve Young? Just a crazy freelancer.

Go post on "The Book Made Me Do It.Com" It's a great site for non-thinking conformists who believe anything management or ownership flushes down the pipeline for them to digest. You guys will eat it up!

Posted by: Thinker_ | September 14, 2010 1:46 AM | Report abuse

And Reed Doughty is not very good in pass coverage. Newsflash!

Anyone just figuring that out last night, is probably suffering from amnesia. We've seen it for years. Expecting him to take the field as Sean Taylor is unrealistic. At least he finishes tackles... Unlike our Free Safety last year (LL blew UP last night!).

I mean, that's why he's the backup. Horton might be worse. It's a tossup. I'm just hoping Kareem Moore is really better. Not holding my breath, though.

And Fletcher, honestly, looked a bit out of sorts in the new D at times. Seeing him cover a TE deep was painful to watch. Seeing him get swallowed up by an Offensive Guard hurt, too. Hopefully, it's a period of adjustment, but I'm afraid it may be the type of Defense that had scouts labeling Fletcher as "Too Small To Play Linebacker In The NFL."

He's a great, great player, but, to me, he seemed to be asked to do a WHOLE lot of things that do not work to his strengths, which would be to dive into a gap and tackle a runner or separate a WR from the ball on a crossing pattern.

Time will tell. Fletcher will never stink. He wont allow himself to, but the D, in my eyes, doesn't work to his strengths.

Posted by: Thinker_ | September 14, 2010 1:56 AM | Report abuse

Don't forget.. Lavar also picked the Cowboys to win this game.

Posted by: urbanaslamma | September 14, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Why all the Lavar hatred? I thought he was a great player that was in the wrong system and had to suffer through more coaching changes than I can even remember. I like the perspective he brings and look forward to his columns.

As to the Cowboys game, it was an exciting squeeker that would have been less exciting if we'd had a little bit more offensive success. Still not sure about the defensive line yet - they need to be tested against a sold O-line before we can see what we have there. But Orapko looked pretty damn good and Fletcher was his usual solid self.

Posted by: josetucson | September 14, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Lavar - loving your commentaries...but I do agree...a little humble pie would be a good thing here. Simply saying "I fell into the trap of over-rating the Cowboys, just like the rest of the media..." would go a long way with your readers.

Posted by: mbpfeiffer | September 14, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

efdelaney, Ayatoldyaso and Co.,
you guys must be on crack. Washed up? Firing Snyder? Obviously you know nothing about football. The 'girls beat themselves? Yeah, that was the girls hitting Choice so hard he fumbled and that was the girls about to kill Romo on the last play of the game so they arm-choked themselves. That was the girls holding themselves to less than 100 yards of rushing. The girls were out-coached, out-muscled, and out-hussled. Most importantly, they were outlasted in a physical game. Punche din the mouth. Bunch of girls man. Bunch of girls. Just like their fans. Go back o Dallas and stay there.

Posted by: mustang_johnny1 | September 14, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

I forgot, D. Ware also must have blocked himself from getting pressure on McNabb all night right? Had nothing to do with our rookie left tackle outplaying him. Face it cowgirls. The skins wanted this game more than the girls and it showed. Way to kick them in the teeth. Hail to the Redskins.

Posted by: mustang_johnny1 | September 14, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

haha, this is an excerpt from the Dallas News. At least this guy is objective:

"Now, those of who you wave pompoms when you watch the games will blame the Cowboys' offensive struggles on the loss of left guard Kyle Kosier (knee) and right tackle Marc Colombo (knee). You might even say losing Dez Bryant for much of the preseason affected the unit's chemistry.


The reality is this unit makes way too many mistakes, whether we're talking assignment busts, penalties, poor execution or dumb play-calling. "

Hail baby

Posted by: mustang_johnny1 | September 14, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I just love the way Lavar seems to know everything about the game AFTER it is played! Kinda' like he did it when he was active.
C'mon, can you people dump this clown and find him a job parking cars or something equal to his in"tell"ect!
Man, talk about the Peter Principal!

Posted by: burro2 | September 14, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

It would have been great to see you in that defense with the Redskins. As I remember you had a lot of QB's running for their lives.....

Great article

Posted by: thooker65 | September 14, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Hey donkey (burro), go play somewhere else. Noone wants to hear your rhetoric.

Posted by: mustang_johnny1 | September 14, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Lavar, you will always be on my Christmas list because of what you did to Troy the boy toy Aikman. I loved you in a Redskins uni and you did alot in terms of helping with team chemistry during some turbulant times. However that does not make you a writer, your biased opinion sometimes clouds your judgement and when you try to be unbiased you take broad stroke assesments and try tp polish them up with big words. personaly I'd rather see you coaching somewhere passing on a knowledge that'll benefit someone. instead you are blocking the way for some pinhead journalist who may actually have a knack for entertaining people

Posted by: nflorida1 | September 14, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Arrington, thank you for your spirited, enthusiastic and insightful column. It always gets right to the point, providing much needed encouragement for us battered Redskin fans. No cynicism, and no overblown hype.
Yours are some of the most entertaining write-ups available on the boys in Burgundy and Gold.
Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: pooftah2 | September 14, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Those of you hating on Lavar c'mon. He was not a bust. People who make multiple pro bowls ARE NOT busts. I'm sure you'd rather have Tracee Hamilton writing these posts......Paaahhhlllleeeeezzze.

I do however understand my fellow Redskins fans frustration. We are like men who haven't had sex with their wives in six months. We are gonna lash out, and that's OK.

A win is a win however,(I know that is cliche)but it's true. Very nice to beat Dallas in that fashion!!! So wonderful to see all the Cowgirl fans jumping in excitement at the end only to see their reaction when they were all informed "sorry you can't choke the defender trying to get to the QB" YOU LOSE!!!!!!!!!! OUTSTANDING!!!!!

We do have some things to work on big time and for those of you who haven't looked at the schedule the non divisional opponents are brutal. Why this win is a shock to any Skins fan is beyond me!! The Skins had 8-8 talent last year easy. It's Just the coaching staff and team discipline was a joke! Also, any real Redskin fan knows the Cowboys are the most overrated team in the league.

I won't go on and on to all of you people who thought the team made a huge mistake trading for McNabb.

Did any of you catch that Raider game Sunday!!!!!!!! LOL. Jcam is their problem now.

Posted by: skins91r | September 14, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

After the game all I could think about was how horrible doughty played. After reading this article I'm now ok with putting him in front of a firing line! After reading what Lavar said about Shanahan's plan was to take away all romo's targets except Austin (actual I think the game plan was to take away all targets to include Austin) all the while making it tough for him with constant pressure. It is my opinion he did just this, making him one of the best in the game. Now back to Doughty! On three occasions Doughty was in position to jump Austins route and intercept the ball (which is what Shanahan no doubt expected from this type of game planning). Yet Doughty does not have the football intelligence to read and react to whats in front him and make the game changing plays. I believe Moore will have this ability once healthy. He showed great promise during training camp and OTA's. So although Doughty let his team down, Shanahan did not, his game planning was spot on and should give all us fans reasons for optimism through out the year! Keep up the good work Lavar. Your articles are informative, fact based, and refreshing. Any one could have missed the Doughty connection ;) Doughty did after all!

Posted by: Rep281 | September 14, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

For any true Redskin fans who hate on Lavar I have three words for you, Ended Aikman’s Career! Lavar was larger than life when he played for the skins, a true fan favorite. If you dispute that your hating or not a true Redskins fan. p.s. if you read this Lavar, tell Dukes my black Taylor jersey is not a Japanese rip off. I will for sure tell him in person if the opportunity ever presents itself.

Posted by: TriangleRyan | September 14, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

They made a shadow jersey for Taylor?

Posted by: Rep281 | September 14, 2010 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Lavar. Great column! You gave your all as a player for the 'Skins. Thanks man! Go 'Skins!!

Posted by: MstrC | September 15, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

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