Sunday, October 25, 2020


So how does a Washington Football fan digest Sunday’s 25-3 win over the Dallas Cowboys?

Celebration? Boasting? Hope?

None of the above.

No, to truly enjoy this victory is learn the survival skill of tunnel vision. I mean, really deep tunnel vision. Tunnel vision like that bad dream you have of being trapped in a tunnel, and then, just before you wake up, you hear the faint sound of someone trying to dig you out. A really faint sound.

That is probably the best way to look at the entire season, as Washington crawls toward a possible NFC East title.

Ignore the reality of beating a Dallas team that didn’t seem interested in being on the field, let alone competing.

That paved the way for Washington quarterback Kyle Allen to lead his team with two touchdown passes and zero interceptions. It’s hard even for a turnover machine like Allen, who lost one fumble early, to give the ball away to a team as checked out as the Cowboys.

This was the difference between this game and the week before, when they lost 20-19 to the New York Giants — their opponent again in two weeks after the Washington bye week — thanks to two Allen turnovers

In what was their best one-sided performance of the season, the Washington offense gained 397 yards, while the defense held Dallas to just 142 yards. The Washington pass rush had six sacks of Cowboys backup quarterback Andy Dalton, and then, after linebacker Jon Bostic delivered a vicious hit that knocked Dalton out of the game and got Bostic ejected, third string quarterback Ben DiNucci (they called him “Big Bad Benny DiNucch” in high school).

See? If you try to see too far, or examine Sunday’s victory too closely, all you’ll see in front of you is the debris and destruction that has trapped this franchise for nearly 20 years. So squint your eyes and use the tunnel vision to limit your view to simply a win over Dallas, which is never a bad day.

But what about the NFC East? With Washington now 2-5, just behind the Philadelphia Eagles and in the middle of coach Ron Rivera’s winnable part of the schedule, with the Giants, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals and Cowboys again in that stretch of games, don’t you see a division title and a playoff spot if you open your eyes enough?

Rivera does. “It is an opportunity for us to hopefully hunker in, play well, see what happens and come out on the right side of that,” he told reporters after the game. “We could be right in the thick of what is going on in our division. We have one of the tie breakers right now over the team that is leading the division, although they have a half game lead on us. So who knows? We’ll see, we’ll compete and work hard and try to get things done.”

A division title. A playoff spot. Has it helped free you before?

Tunnel vision allows you to enjoy the moments of 2020 – the year of uncertainty — while deadening the pain of expecting to be freed.

Rivera was asked about the “rivalry” atmosphere at Ghost Town Field Sunday — still devoid of fans, with just a handful of family and friends allowed in the stadium.

“It was kind of cool, pre game,” Rivera told reporters. “I got to see Mr. (Jerry) Jones and Stephen Jones and got an opportunity to talk to them.”

Remember when Joe Gibbs used to talk about how much fun it was to talk to Tex Schramm and Clint Murchison before Dallas games?

“I can’t wait to experience it at home with a packed stadium when it means something,” Rivera said.

Who is going to tell him?

No matter — Washington beat Dallas, humiliated them actually, in what was the ‘Aura of Self Destruction Bowl” — two organizations built to fail by their respective owners. Mr. Jones and Dan Snyder.

At least Jerry can say he has a bigger yacht.

Rivera said the victory “shows what they are capable of doing. If they realize they are capable of it, it gives them confidence moving forward. That’s what we are trying to build right here. We are trying to build the right kind of culture and part of it is just playing with confidence.”

Washington fans, of course, can’t afford that kind of confidence. They’ve lived through too many culture changes that vowed to dig them out to believe in the long game here.

It’s the short game that will keep you sane, the tunnel vision that blocks out everything else but the faint sound of someone far away trying to dig through the wreckage and ruins.

Hear Thom Loverro Tuesdays and Thursdays on the Kevin Sheehan Show Podcast and Wednesday afternoons on Chad Dukes Vs. The World on 106.7 The Fan.

• Thom Loverro can be reached at tloverro@washingtontimes.com.

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