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Loss Still Lingers In 'Big D'

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It was a year ago that the Redskins staged their unlikely and dramatic comeback at Texas Stadium. In truth, the come-from-behind Washington win sparked by Mark Brunell and Santana Moss apparently still lingers in Dallas.

"It was one of those rare games," Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe said on Wednesday. "I got home and had a couple of voice mails and a couple of e-mails saying 'Congratulations on the win.'

"I guess they came from people who had turned the game off and gone to bed, not realizing the Redskins had come back and beat us. I wouldn't say it was a turning point in the season for us but at the same time it was a really disappointing loss."

On DallasCowboys.com, the team's official web site, head coach Bill Parcells is quoted this week as saying: "I don't think I have to remind them [about last year' 14-13 loss]. It's been written upon the entire year around here. Somebody has made reference to it on a weekly basis, so I think that they're pretty much aware of what happened."

If Week 2 was disappointing for the Cowboys, Week 15 had to be an embarrassment. On that occasion Dallas was clubbed at FedExField 35-7. Chris Cooley's three touchdowns helped the Redskins wrap up their first sweep in the rivalry since 1995.

All of that is just backdrop now.

When Washington and Dallas meet on Sunday night in Texas Stadium, it will be a matchup of two teams that all of a sudden have some serious questions to answer.

The Cowboys have kicking issues, a revamped offensive line and the volatile Terrell Owens now in the mix. They're coming off a 24-17 loss at Jacksonville.

Washington was upset at home 19-16 by a Minnesota team that featured an impressive line. Brad Johnson was sacked only once, by Demetric Evans, and looked calm and collected for most of the evening.

Aside from getting back on the winning track, the Redskins can make a statement by beating Dallas on national television.

They can also put the Cowboys in an early-season hole: Dallas has a bye in Week 3, followed by two road games at Tennessee and Philadelphia. A Redskin win on Sunday night would put the Cowboys at 0-2, with two weeks to think about things.

For the second year in a row, the Cowboys have concerns at place kicker. Parcells admits it's been frustrating, given that veteran Mike Vanderjagt missed Week 1 with a groin injury and that second-year kicker Shaun Suisham missed a key 36-yarder at Jacksonville.

Said Parcells: "It's exasperating to a degree but there are certain situations that you don't control. They're not canceling the games, so you have to do what you can and what you think is best."

In last season's Week 2 encounter, Cowboys kicker Jose Cortez, the former Redskin, hit from 33 and 41 yards but missed a separate 41-yarder in the first quarter. That one could have given Dallas a 16-0 edge in the late going.

Instead, over the final 3:46 Brunell and Moss combined on 39- and 70-yard TDs in an improbable sequence that went directly into the lore of the Redskins-Cowboys 46-year rivalry.

In that first game at Dallas last year, Brunell was sacked five times--involving six different Cowboys defenders--and intercepted once, by cornerback Terence Newman.

The rematch at FedExField saw Bledsoe go down seven times--Phillip Daniels getting four of those to tie a franchise record--and throw three interceptions.

Bledsoe is something of a beleaguered figure in Dallas these days, as some Cowboys followers are calling for a change to Tony Romo, an untested third-year player out of Eastern Illinois.

At Jacksonville, Bledsoe was 6-for-10 in the first quarter and Dallas scored on its first two possessions. But Bledsoe was intercepted just before halftime by cornerback Rashean Mathis. Things went downhill for the Cowboys in the second half, as Bledsoe was intercepted twice more.

Looking ahead to Week 2, Bledsoe, like Brunell now in his 14th season, says: "It's a very big game for both teams, to come off of a loss and then go into a division game. It's a huge game. We go into a bye after this, so for us it's a huge one because whatever happens in this game we have to live with for two weeks."

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