Cowboys 20, Redskins 14

Monday, December 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) _ Make it nine in a row for the Dallas Cowboys over the Washington Redskins _ and one huge point proven by Emmitt Smith.

One week after getting just nine carries in a loss to Denver _ and five days after his verbal tit-for-tat with coach Dave Campo _ Smith ran for 102 yards on 25 carries and scored his first touchdown of the season in Sunday's 20-14 victory over the Redskins.

``I can do it,'' said Smith, his head nodding with an air of vindication. ``Given the opportunity, I can do it.''

Smith, rookie quarterback Quincy Carter and another solid game from the defense produced yet another upset in the rivalry. The Cowboys (3-8) rushed for 216 yards, snapped a four-game losing streak and completed an improbable season sweep of the Redskins (5-6).

``We get fired up for these Redskins games,'' linebacker Dexter Coakley said. ``Maybe we need to play the Redskins all year. We'd be 16-0.''

Washington had won five in a row, a streak now sandwiched by losses to the team that has had a hex over them since 1997.

``They got us figured out one way or another,'' defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson. ``It was one of those games where it seems like you just can't put your finger on it _ other than in my mind and my heart, our defense let us down.''

Smith's 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter started the scoring, and Carter's 64-yard pass to Raghib Ismail, who beat Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey down the right sideline, was the big play in the fourth quarter.

Carter, who had missed the last six games with a hamstring injury, had not led a touchdown drive in 13 series this season. Almost half _ 64 of 130 _ of his passing yards Sunday came on the throw to Ismail.

``This team has proven through the year that we can run the football,'' Smith said. ``When we've got young quarterbacks and rotating quarterbacks, you need to lean on that strength a little bit more than we have.''

Last week, Campo said that Smith was no longer a 30-carry back. Taken aback, Smith wondered how the coach could know that because ``they haven't given it to me 30 times to find out.''

This time, the NFL's career rushing TD leader had the ball early and often. He had five carries on the opening drive, including a touchdown run that was textbook: He swept right and patiently waited for the blocking to develop before heading to the end zone.

Both of Smith's 100-yard rushing games this season have been against the Redskins.

``I'm sorry I didn't get Emmitt the ball 30 times,'' Campo said. ``But we came close. ... Emmitt and I are great. It's not even a conversation piece _ other than the fact that he wants the football.''

Tony Banks scored on a 1-yard scramble for the Redskins. He also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Rod Gardner to end a desperation drive with 53 seconds remaining, the final score in a major letdown game by a team that had been the hottest in the NFL.

``We have to know that once we turn things around,'' linebacker LaVar Arrington said, ``there are certain responsibilities. This is a resilient team. We're going to bounce back.''

Banks didn't complete a pass for positive yardage until late in the second quarter. When the Redskins finally tied the game in the third quarter, they did it with Stephen Davis.

Davis had six carries in the drive before catching a screen pass for a 29-yard gain to the 1. But he couldn't get the TD in three attempts, leaving Banks to score on a fourth-down scramble.

Banks sprained his ankle on the play but returned for the next series.

The Cowboys took a 10-7 lead on Hilbert's 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. The Redskins had a chance to tie on their next possession when they drove to the Dallas 33, but coach Marty Schottenheimer had kicker Brett Conway punt the ball out of field goal formation instead of trying the long kick.

On the next possession, Carter hit Ismail in stride to put the Cowboys ahead 17-7. Hilbert later added a 39-yard field goal.

``I felt they were going to come in here and hand it to Emmitt Smith,'' Schottenheimer said. ``We didn't defend it.''

Notes: Redskins TE Stephen Alexander re-injured his right ankle in the first half and did not return. Dallas linebacker Markus Steele bruised his right knee. ... A most unusual drive: The Cowboys had one that lasted 10:11 and included 12 consecutive runs, no completed passes and a fourth-and-6 conversion _ yet it produced no points because Hilbert shanked a 44-yard field goal attempt.