Winless Cowboys hope to deal Redskins, Deion, another loss

Friday, September 15th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) _ The start of the 2000 season hasn't been fun for the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. So Monday night's meeting between two of the NFL's bitterest rivals is about survival.

And, of course, it's about Deion Sanders, who joined the Redskins from the Cowboys in the offseason.

The Cowboys are in the more critical condition after two division losses _ to Philadelphia and Arizona.

But their expectations were never as high as those in Washington, where a series of offseason acquisitions makes unsatisfactory anything less than a Super Bowl trip.

Last week's 15-10 loss to Detroit, after an unimpressive win over Carolina and a season-ending injury to wide receiver Michael Westbrook, have created a crisis atmosphere.

``You are going to see two teams that need to win very badly,'' said Redskins coach Norv Turner, whose job security after seven years hinges on how far he gets his team into the playoffs.

For Dallas, a loss would make the Cowboys 0-3 for the first time since 1989, when they were 1-15 in Jimmy Johnson's first year. On the other hand, their one win that season was a 13-3 victory in Washington.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced on the team's Web site Friday that Troy Aikman would sit out for a second straight week after suffering a concussion during Dallas' season-opening loss Sept. 3. Randall Cunningham, who played well in Aikman's place in last week's loss to Arizona, starts.

Wide receiver Joey Galloway, for whom Dallas surrendered two first-round picks, was also lost for the season in the opener.

And as if this Monday night affair needed any more intrigue, it marks Sanders' first appearance against the Cowboys since signing a seven-year, $56 million contract with Washington, a part of owner Daniel Snyder's $100 million offseason spending spree to turn the team into a Super Bowl contender.

Dallas has been outscored 73-45 in its first two games, and Dave Campo, the team's new coach, points at Sanders' absence as a problem.

Sanders, meanwhile, isn't concerned about last week, when he had what he called ``the worst game of my career'' in Detroit.

``They just moved the ball with short curls all day. But that will be corrected this week, I will assure you of that,'' Sanders said. That's a good possibility _ Sanders has lived up to his ``Prime Time'' nickname with five interceptions, one for a touchdown, in 15 Monday night appearances, and also has returned two punts for TDs.

Cornerback Champ Bailey, a two-way player at Georgia, has practiced at receiver. With Westbrook out, 37-year-old Irving Fryar steps into the starting lineup opposite Albert Connell, while the Redskins last week also signed 16-year veteran Andre Reed, whose 941 receptions are second behind Jerry Rice's NFL record of 1,214.

Running back Stephen Davis has 192 yards and one touchdown this season, but quarterback Brad Johnson struggled last week, throwing four interceptions.

Campo is concerned by the Washington offense's slow start.

``They want to run the football and get after you physically and then hit the big play,'' Campo said. ``We fully expect Norv to go after us. That's his style.''

As for Sanders, Brad Johnson says he's glad the cornerback traded in his silver-and-blue Cowboys uniform for a burgundy-and-gold Redskins jersey.

``Every time I see Deion, I tell him it's better to play with you than having to play against you twice a year,'' he said. ``This time, Troy and those guys will have to see what we have faced.''