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History repeats: Allen’s first trip to Dallas

History repeats: Allen’s first trip to Dallas

The Washington Redskins' 26-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys was the first time in 37 years that a Redskins coach has won in his first trip to Dallas. The previous occasion came in 1971 when George Allen took his team to the Cotton Bowl and came out with a 20-16 win.

The parallels don't end there:

  • The Redskins came into both games playing well (they were 2-0 in '71) but flying well under the radar nationally.
  • That game would be the last time the Redskins would play in the Cotton Bowl. Yesterday was their last trip to Texas Stadium.
  • In both games, Dallas got a late score to make the final score deceptively close.
  • After both games, coaches Allen and Zorn led a three cheers for the Redskins with a "Hip-Hip Hooray!"

Since many of you weren't around for that '71 contest (leave a comment if you were around, or if you have any awareness of this game), here's the recap from the pages of The Redskins From A to Z.

 

Cotton Bowl--Dallas had beaten the Redskins six straight times, a streak spanning three Washington head coaches, but things appeared to be different here right off the bat. On the second play from scrimmage, fullback Charley Harraway took a pitch on a weak side sweep, followed textbook blocks by Larry Brown, Walter Rock, and Roy Jefferson and rolled all the way, 57 yards for a touchdown. Washington was in the lead to stay.

Dallas tried to respond and mounted a promising drive, taking 15 plays to move upfield to the Washington 41. The promise died, though, when Mike Clark's field goal attempt from 48 yards was partially blocked and it stayed 7-0.

Clark did have a successful field goal attempt in the second quarter, but the Redskins had the response. Jefferson took advantage of a slip by his defender and caught a 50-yard TD bomb from Billy Kilmer. The Redskins were up 14-3 and, although Dallas did get two more field goals before halftime, the impression was that the visitors were clearly in the driver's seat.

That impression proved to be accurate. Washington kept the ball on the ground—Kilmer attempted only 10 passes all day, getting over half of his 94 passing yards on the one TD to Jefferson—and set up two Curt Knight field goals to extend the lead to 20-9. Harraway rushed for 111 yards on the day and Larry Brown pitched in another 81.

The defensive highlight was Bill Brundige's long sack of Roger Staubach. A stunt allowed Brundige to take advantage of Diron Talbert's pressure that flushed Staubach out of the pocket. "Roger the Dodger" reversed his field for a second time, but Brundige had Staubach in his crosshairs and nailed him 29 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Calvin Hill scored a touchdown on a one-yard run with 3:08 left in the game to get Dallas within four. After that, though, Brown rushed for one first down and Harraway for another and the Redskins killed the clock.

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The Redskins drafted for need, and this time, that is just fine

The Redskins drafted for need, and this time, that is just fine

ASHBURN, Va. -- After months, and maybe years, of the Redskins front office explaining that the NFL Draft came down to taking the best player available, the organization might have veered from that strategy Thursday night.

The Redskins selected Alabama defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne with the No. 13 overall pick. It's a fine selection, but the team made it not necessarily because Payne was the best player available, but because he was the best player available at a position of desperate need. 

"There were quite a few guys that were worthy of that pick, quite frankly, but for what we were looking for and the fit, I think Da’Ron is perfect for us and what we were looking for," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said after the first round ended.

Payne should help right away on the Redskins defensive line, but plenty of fans want to know why the team didn't select Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds at No. 13. Both freak athletes, James could have helped the Redskins' secondary while Edmunds could help at the linebacker spot and rushing the passer.

Asked specifically if Payne was on top of the board at No. 13 with Edmunds and James present, the coach wasn't quite crystal clear.

"Yeah, he was up there. There’s a lot of scenarios we tried to play through and guys were getting picked and we’re happy as heck to get Da’Ron. He’s one of our top guys."

For Gruden and the Redskins, this pick was about competing in the NFC East.

"You see what’s going on in our division with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott and Philadelphia, the way they run the ball," the coach said. "Our [2017] ranking on defense wasn’t quite up to speed at 32nd."

The coach is right. 

The Redskins struggled mightily last season against the run, coming in dead last in rush defense. In turn, they struggled in the division, going 1-5. Dallas and Philadelphia already run the ball very well, and now by drafting Barkley second overall, the Giants could be a strong run team too. 

There is no question Payne will step in and help against the run, and that should happen immediately. Gruden even said the Redskins will use Payne at the nose tackle position, likely with Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis lined up next to him. 

The question on Payne is pass rushing ability, and he's eager to prove it's no question at all. 

"I’m going to get after the pass rush and just dominate the run every chance I get," the new Redskins said in a conference call with media. 

In thre years at Alabama, Payne logged three sacks. Read that again. It's not a misprint. 

For interior defensive line players, sacks aren't always a great measure of effectiveness. Getting good push up the middle disrupts the quarterbacks time in the pocket, and that often results in sacks off the edge. Payne should be able to help in that capacity.

"I think he's got great power, and a lot of times the sacks that don't show up on the stat board, he enabled other guys to get them because of the push of the pocket that forces the quarterback outside. I think Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Ryan Anderson will be very happy to have Jonathan Allen and Da'Ron Payne in the middle pushing that pocket," Gruden said. "Stats don't always tell a story about pass rushers."

The Redskins made a smart, safe pick with Payne. He will help the team from Day One. 

The Redskins eschewed the chance for a riskier, but maybe more rewarding pick in Derwin James or Tremaine Edmunds. And that's ok.

If Payne boosts the run defense, like he should, he will be proven worth the No. 13 pick.

If Payne boosts the run defense, and proves capable as a pass rusher, then Redskins fans will forget all about James and Edmunds. 

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Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Da'Ron Payne's first reaction after being drafted No. 13 by the Redskins

Many top draft choices chose to head to the NFL Draft, hear their name called and get the pomp and circumstance that comes with all that is the NFL Draft. 

The Washington Reskins' No. 13 pick Da'Ron Payne was not one of those prospects. 

Instead, Payne watched the draft surronded by close friends and family.

The reaction was memorable: 

Some draft picks choose not to come for fear of slidding down draft boards, or worse: not being picked in the first round at all. 

So he doesn't get to meet Roger Goodell. He doesn't get a Redskins' jersey on draft night.

But this video wouldn't exist if the defensive tackle from Alabama chose to go to Dallas, Texas on draft night. 

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