Dallas running back Emmitt Smith saw his record streak of 1,000-yard rushing seasons halted at 11 as the Cowboys likely had an era come to an end. Smith perhaps played his final game in a Dallas uniform and the Cowboys are expected to announce Monday that Coach Dave Campo has been fired.
Washington Coach Steve Spurrier delivered on his promise of giving a game ball to franchise owner Daniel Snyder as the Redskins finally broke their jinx against the Cowboys. The 10 straight Dallas victories had been the longest winning streak in one of the NFL's best rivalries.
"It's hard for me to get excited about this," Spurrier said. "I know they've beaten us a lot, so don't get me wrong. They're still a 5-11 team three years in a row. Sometimes we maybe give Dallas too much credit, you know what I mean?"
A lifelong Redskins fan who purchased the team in 1999, Snyder was 0-7 against the Cowboys and did not want to have to wait until next year for his game ball.
The game featured nine turnovers, including five by Washington (7-9), but the Redskins took the lead for good when Arrington recovered a fumble in the end zone after defensive end Bruce Smith sacked quarterback Chad Hutchinson with 7:41 left in the third quarter.
Arrington also set up another touchdown with a fumble recovery at the Dallas 24 in the second quarter and added a sack.
"The win was long overdue and the fact we had it on the last game of the year going into next year means a lot," Arrington said.
Seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrell Green ended his 20-year career with the Redskins and was saluted in a ceremony before the game. He holds the club record with 295 games played and his 54 interceptions is second among active players to Oakland's Rod Woodson.
Green thrilled the crowd with a 30-yard punt return in his final game.
"It was great to see Darrell have a great play," Spurrier said. "Darrell gave a nice little talk to the team after the game. He's been a joy to be around and a great guy on the team. We wish him the best and I'm sure we'll see him around in the offseason."
"As I did the victory lap (for the fans), it brings an end to what I was known for as football player, but it also launches my new life," Green said. "This will not sink in for a while. I have no expectation to be involved with the team, but I'll always be part of the Redskins where ever I go."
However, it may be a bitter end in Dallas for Smith, who needed 38 yards rushing for his 12th consecutive 1,000-yard season. He gained just 13 yards on 18 carries after picking up 144 yards against the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day. He will count for $9.8 million against the salary cap in 2003 if the Cowboys keep him unless his contract is re-negotiated.
"I do want to play next year," Smith said. "I don't care if it's in a Dallas Cowboys uniform or anywhere else. I still want to play the game of football because I still feel like I can.
"Once they make their evaluations, they're going to find out that I'm not the problem," Smith said. "We have a lot more problems than just a 33-year-old running back."
"It's a cut throat business, you either perform or you get out. That's the hardest thing because you establish relationships with people," Hutchinson said. "To realize some won't be here, that's tough."
The Cowboys have gone 15-33 in Campo's three seasons, finishing 5-11 each year. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has had two meetings with veteran coach Bill Parcells amid speculation the two-time Super Bowl winner would be hired.
"It was a huge distraction," Smith said of Parcells' shadow hanging over Campo. "Any time you have a subject like that, it was talked about through the week and then have it trickle on the field. When you have people talking about it on the day of the game and before, you know it's on people's minds."
"Tough way to end the season, but I'm proud of the team for hanging in until the end," Campo said. "The game was a story of third downs. We couldn't make ours and they made theirs. From a running standpoint, they whipped us up front. That was the key to the football game."
The Redskins rushed for 151 yards and held Dallas to 38 yards on the ground and eight first downs overall. The Cowboys were one for 13 on third-down conversions.
With Stephen Davis sidelined with a separated shoulder, rookie Ladell Betts and Kenny Watson shared the load in the backfield. Betts had 98 yards on 17 carries and Watson added 58 yards on 17 carries, including a five-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Rookies Antonio Bryant and Roy Williams starred for the Cowboys. Bryant caught seven passes for 170 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter, and Williams scored on an 85-yard interception return. He scored on a five-yard interception return in the Thanksgiving Day win.