The Redskins have come a long way in their head-to-head meetings with Dallas. Once, Jeff George was dragged across Texas Stadium. Now, Washington is the one dishing out the punishment.
The Redskins completed a sweep of the Cowboys in 2005 by pummeling Dallas 35-7 Sunday night at FedExField. They inflicted a physical beating from start to finish before 90,588, causing Bill Parcells to say afterward: "The better team obviously won."
The most dominant Redskins defender was Phillip Daniels, the veteran defensive end. Daniels had a night for the record books. He produced four of the Redskins' seven sacks. With that, he tied the Redskins' single-game record, held by Dexter Manley and Diron Talbert.
"I needed one more. I wished I could get one more," the 6-5, 290-pound Daniels said. "This was just a big day, the biggest of my career. It was a matter of going out and playing without fear. My teammates, being where they needed to be, stepped up a whole lot, too. This was just a big game. We needed it."
Twice in his 10-year NFL career, Daniels has had nine-sack seasons. Those came with Seattle in 1999 and Chicago in 2001. The game versus Torrin Tucker and the Cowboys Sunday night has to rank as the best of Daniels' career, though.
When the Redskins brought Daniels over from the Bears prior to the 2004 season, they knew they were getting a solid veteran with pass-rush skills. They didn't expect games of four sacks, though.
"Today was my son's birthday, No. 13. So I wanted to do something special," said Daniels. "I wanted to get a sack for him, but I got four. That's even better. This is going to be a day I remember for the rest of my life."
Manley had four sacks for the Redskins against the Giants in 1988 and Talbert registered four sacks against the same team in 1975.
Said Daniels: "We didn't do anything differently on [Drew] Bledsoe. We just took our opportunities and made the most out of them. All year, people have been maximum protecting against us. For the last three or four weeks, they haven't done that at all. We just had a chance to go out tonight and beat the man in front of us one-on-one. That's what we did."
Linebacker Marcus Washington had two sacks for the Redskins. Linemen Renaldo Wynn and Joe Salave'a both had a half-sack. Linebacker Lemar Marshall led the defense with nine tackles.
But this was Daniels' time to shine. He gave his team a much-needed lift, one that sends them into Saturday's matchup with the NFC East-leading Giants with a great deal of momentum.
It was apparent from the very early going that the Redskins were playing at a high level defensively. Cornelius Griffin, circling like a centerfielder, intercepted a Bledsoe pass at the 10:53 mark of the first quarter. The pass was tipped by none other than Daniels, signaling that he was going to be a factor to be reckoned with for 60 minutes.
For most of his two seasons in Washington, Daniels has proven to be a real team leader and an experienced voice in the locker room. Sunday night, he added the fact that he can play first-rate football.