IRVING,TEXAS — IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys upset the Washington Redskins in the teams' second game of the season for the third straight year, but it didn't appear to be a fluke yesterday.
The Cowboys found the Redskins fat, plump and tasty as they carved them up while recording a 27-17 victory before 60,355 at Texas Stadium.
This time, the Cowboys appeared to be the better team, the team on the rise, and Redskins appeared to be the team on the decline.
Are the Cowboys better than the Redskins?
"They were today," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "The answer is what happens on the field. They've got a strong, good football team."
The Cowboys also apparently haven't heard about the decline of the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. They played with the intensity that was once a hallmark of this matchup.
"Each game I write a little message on the blackboard, and today all I had to write was 'Redskins.' This is still a very big rivalry, and our players were ready to play today," Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson said.
Troy Aikman passed for 222 yards and one touchdown, and rookie Emmitt Smith rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, as the Cowboys took a 10-0 lead, fell behind, 17-10, then charged back to score the game's last 17 points.
"I think today we just got outplayed and out-coached. We're kind of hit-or-miss in so many different ways," Gibbs said.
A week ago, Gibbs seemed to think the team was in crisis. He yanked the players off the practice field and screamed at them about their lack of intensity.
Now, the crisis is here. The Redskins are 6-5 and figure to be underdogs in three of their last five games -- against the Miami Dolphins (8-2), Chicago Bears (9-1) and Buffalo Bills (9-1).
They figure to beat the Indianapolis Colts (4-6) and the New England Patriots (1-9) in the other two games, but that would give them only eight victories.
They might squeeze into the playoffs with an 8-8 record because the postseason party was watered down by an addition of a third wild-card team in each conference. But making it with an 8-8 record wouldn't be much of a cause for a celebration.
"We've got to find out if we can find a solution," Gibbs said. "We've been inconsistent. There's some things that are starting to jump up there and bite us now. When we don't run and we don't stop the run, we're in trouble."
This time, Gibbs figured screaming isn't the answer. Since the Redskins have played three games in 9 days and 22 hours, he's going to try rest as a cure-all. He gave the players off until Monday.
"The answer is going to come out of all this down the road. We're 6-5. We're going to find out if we're a good football team and good coaches," he said.
The main priority has to be to improve the running game. The Redskins were out-rushed, 162-36. With Gerald Riggs ailing, Earnest Byner carried 14 times for just 39 yards. Wide receiver Art Monk ran a reverse for a 3-yard loss.
Without a running game, quarterback Mark Rypien was forced to throw 54 times, with little success. He completed 26 for 267 yards and a touchdown, and one pass was intercepted. He lacked the sharpness he displayed Sunday, when he threw four touchdown passes against the New Orleans Saints in his first game after a seven-week layoff because of a knee injury.
"I think Ryp was just like all of us. It was all of us together, coaching, playing, everything," Gibbs said.
The team's only offensive threat was rookie Brian Mitchell, who returned seven kicks -- four kickoffs and three punts -- for 127 yards.
But he didn't get a chance to carry from the line of scrimmage, and Gibbs said he never considered giving Mitchell a shot.
"I don't think it was Earnest's fault. If we're going to get it done, Earnest is going to do it," Gibbs said.
The Redskins appeared stunned after the game.
"I just couldn't believe it," defensive lineman Eric Williams said. "It's so hard to put it in words. You guys want the emotion right off the press. This is the emotion right now. It's disbelief. It's disappointment. It's a lot of things. It's really hard to put it into words."
Some Redskins didn't even try.
"I'm not talking about anything," running back Kelvin Bryant said.
Defensive lineman Darryl Grant said: "I'll talk all day Monday. I don't feel like it right now."
The Redskins fell behind, 10-0, in the first quarter when Ken Willis kicked a 49-yard field goal and Michael Irvin caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Aikman the first play after Issiac Holt blocked a punt by Ralf Mojsiejenko.
But the Redskins cut the deficit to 10-7 at halftime when Byner's 5-yard run capped a 78-yard drive. They tied it in the third period on Chip Lohmiller's 25-yard field goal (he hit the left upright on a 52-yard attempt in the second period) and went ahead, 17-10, on Rypien's 6-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Sanders. It was set up by Marshall's interception of an ill-advised screen pass by Aikman into a crowd of players.
The Cowboys quickly got back into the game when James Dixon's 47-yard kickoff return put them in position for a 55-yard drive capped by Smith's 1-yard run that tied the game, 17-17.
The Redskins then advanced to the Dallas 41, only to see James Washington intercept a long pass to Gary Clark, who was double-covered, on the Dallas 5-yard line.
"That was just a misread and wasn't a good throw," Rypien said.
A 41-yard pass from Aikman to Jay Novacek set up Willis' 41-yard field goal that gave the Cowboys a 20-17 lead. Smith wrapped it up with a 48-yard touchdown run when he was sprung by two blocks by John Gesek.
Once Smith broke loose, Green ran him down, but couldn't make the tackle as Smith shook him off at about the 25-yard line.
The Redskins were left wondering why they're inconsistent. They've played poorly in two of their past three games, against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Cowboys, but played well against the Saints on Sunday.
"It's tough to say," Rypien said. "We like to keep on an even keel. It's frustrating for all of us."
Rypien was the first to admit he wasn't as sharp as he had been Sunday. "There were things I wasn't hitting and there were some things I didn't catch. It's a mixture of things," he said.
The Cowboys (5-7) have won two straight games for the first time since 1987.
Cowboys defensive lineman Daniel Stubbs said: "This game brings us all together. Maybe this game shows everybody that we are back. It will make the turkey go down a little easier."
Aikman said, "It's going to be a much better Thanksgiving now."
The Washington Redskins have lost all four games they've played against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Here are ** the scores:
Nov. 22, 1990 27-17
Nov. 23, 1978 37-10
Nov. 28, 1974 24-23
Nov. 28, 1968 29-20