Everything went basically according to plan for the Redskins in their opener two weeks ago. Clinton Portis launched his career in Washington in dramatic fashion. Gregg Williams' defense put all sorts of pressure on Brad Johnson. Mark Brunell steadied the offense following a third-quarter gaffe. And Chris Samuels held the potentially-devastating Simeon Rice in check.
At the end of the day, a pair of medium-range field goals by John Hall stood up as the difference in a 16-10 Redskins' win, the 500th in franchise history.
What to do for an encore at FedExField?
Well, it's the Redskins versus the Cowboys. It's Monday Night and a national TV audience. Further, it's the renewal in the sporting rivalry between two of the NFL's top all-time coaches, Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells.
What we have here, in a way, is a smorgasbord for fans.
If there is one notion that had defined Joe Gibbs since he's returned to the Redskins, it's that while he's certainly proud of past achievements, he's also notably aware of the pastness of the past.
Repeatedly, he's remarked that, "The only thing the past gets you is associations."
One of those past associations will be on the other side of FedExField this evening, this time as the head coach of the Redskins' fiercest rival.
Between 1982 and 1991, Gibbs and Parcells made the NFC East the pinnacle of the NFL. They won five Super Bowls between them.
Now head coach of his fourth NFL team, Parcells has often said that he considers Gibbs to be the best coach he's ever gone up against.
Asked about facing Gibbs again, Parcells said this offseason that, "I'm sure the rivalry will be back. I don't think there's any doubt. It will be great to see him on the other side."
Since late in 1997, the Cowboys have dominated in the series, winning every game--save for the sentimental journey surrounding Darrell Green's final game as a Redskin, the 20-14 Washington win that closed out 2002.
Perhaps no one has better captured the flavor of the series better than former Redskins safety Ken Houston. The Hall of Famer once put it this way: "When we played Dallas, the intensity was unbelievable. If you came out of the game, and you weren't bleeding or could barely walk, you hadn't played."
Some of the luster has gone off Redskins-Cowboys matchups in recent years but with Gibbs and Parcells back in charge a new chapter is about to be written.