By Thomas Boswell
Monday, September 29, 2008; E01
IRVING, Tex. Among the litmus tests passed down through generations of Redskins fans is the ability of new coaches to travel to hated Dallas and beat the Cowboys at Texas Stadium. For many, the first trip to Irving has been brutal, setting a tone that never changed. The last Redskins coach to win his first game in Dallas was George Allen in ’71. Even Vince Lombardi lost his only game here for Washington. And Joe Gibbs lost his first time here in both his regimes.
Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis (26) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin (26) after a 31-yard run in the third quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2008, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Jim Zorn may not be a made man quite yet in this town. Seasons are long, much less entire coaching careers. But he’s moving up the ladder awfully fast after a 26-24 victory over a Dallas team that’s touted as one of the Cowboys’ best and a Super Bowl contender. His offense controlled the ball for 38 minutes 9 seconds, outgained Dallas in yardage, 381-344, and did not commit a turnover. Perhaps most important, his attack had such balance between passing and rushing, while the Cowboys threw 47 times out of desperation, that the Redskins actually dominated this game by more than the final margin.
“I don’t know whether I have a headache from calling plays or watching the clock at the end, wanting it to get down [to 0:00],” said Zorn, who sweated out the last 3:22 after a 29-yard Shaun Suisham field goal gave underdog Washington a 26-17 lead that hushed the huge crowd. “It’s good to see that everybody is responding to this style of leadership. We’re heading in the right direction. What does it mean as a [rookie] NFL coach? I mean, we just beat Dallas in Dallas.”
With that, Zorn just stopped and grinned at the thought. Not bad for a guy who, nine months ago when he was introduced as coach, thought the team’s colors were “maroon and black.”
Can we officially and forever forgive that one now? This win stamped Zorn as part of burgundy-and-gold lore. [Read more...]