The decision by Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan to start Rex Grossman over Donavan McNabb was going to cause conflict regardless if the team defeated the Dallas Cowboys Dec. 19—but maybe most critics had it wrong about Grossman’s chances to help them do just that.

Making his first start since 2008, Gross played the game of his life, tossing four touchdown passes and leading the Redskins back from a 20-point deficit to tie the game late in the fourth quarter until a late game interception ended Washington’s chances in a 33-30 loss. With low expectations heading into the game, not many expected the Redskins to even be competitive, but typical of most Washington-Dallas showdowns, it came down to the wire.

First Down: Reinvigorated Rex
Maybe Shanahan wasn’t crazy. Grossman put in the finest performance from a Redskins signal caller this season, recording 322 yards and four touchdown passes with two interceptions. Grossman’s two interceptions killed the Redskins at the end of the day, but his performance was great considering the circumstances. He showed guts, moxie and accuracy. Washington should start Grossman for the rest of the year. The Redskins have no hope to make the playoffs, and its obvious McNabb won’t return next year, but the club can get by with Grossman at quarterback. McNabb’s been hard-pressed to throw for even two touchdowns in a game, and while Grossman ended the game on a poor decision, the decision to start him wasn’t such a poor one after all.

Second Down: No Torain
After rushing for a career-high 172 yards last week, the Redskins choose to give Ryan Torain, their leading rusher, only 11 carries against Dallas. Washington was trailing for most of the game but Torain performed well with the limited touches he had, racking up more than 100 total yards and scoring a touchdown. Washington has a starting player on its hands in the second-year pro and Torain should be an automatic starter next season unless Washington elects to bring in another running back. Torain runs with power and balance and will most likely be the next featured running back in D.C.

Third Down: Another Rivalry Classic
Regardless of the players, Washington vs. Dallas remains one of the more intense rivalries in the league. Despite backup signal callers starting for both teams, the game was still one of the more impressive contests of the day. Grossman surprised Redskins fans with his play, and Dallas backup quarterback Jon Kitna was consistent as well. It’s a shame that Washington hasn’t played every game this season with the same intensity. Although their team lost, Washington fans have nothing to be ashamed of, as the Redskins played competitive ball.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO