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Dallas Week has special meaning for Choice

The Sports Xchange

It's another Dallas week in Washington in what's no longer a fever-pitch Redskins-Cowboys rivalry. The former's ongoing five-game losing streak is also doing its part to curb the enthusiasm in the nation's capital about Sunday's rematch of the Week 3 contest that Dallas pulled out 18-16 at home.

However, there is one Redskin who can't wait for Sunday, the day he turns 27.

Running back Tashard Choice, whom Washington signed off waivers from Dallas on Halloween, is in coach Mike Shanahan's words, "biting at the bit to get going," after not playing since he pulled a hamstring in Week 7 for the Cowboys.

"I'm eager to show people how you make the best out of bad breaks," said Choice, who was the third banana in Dallas behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones for three years and then behind Jones and rookie DeMarco Murray this season. "I don't want no revenge. I just want to go out there and ball."

No revenge, Choice said, and yet, he quickly added this:

"Every time I step on the field, I got a chip on my shoulder. Somebody tell you (that) you can't do something, somebody tell you (that) you're not good enough, you go out there and prove it. You play well, you ball and they shut their mouth."

The Redskins, who are last in the NFL in rushing at 86.6 yards per game and have averaged just 46 yards on 14 carries in the three contests since losing starter Tim Hightower to a season-ending knee injury, could certainly use a spark from the energetic Choice, who averaged 4.6 yards per carry during his Cowboys tenure.

"He's a hard runner," said Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. "He knows where to run with the ball. ... He finds a way to get to the hole, move those linebackers and cut it back."

--The reeling Redskins have lost five straight games for the first time since coach Mike Shanahan's former AFC West rival Marty Schottenheimer was in command in 2001.

The skid is happening even though Washington's respectable defense has allowed more than 23 points in just one of the five games.

San Francisco scored 19 against Washington, Philadelphia and Miami, the bookend Redskins-beaters, each scored 20. Buffalo scored 23. Only Carolina with 33 points has managed more than two touchdowns against Washington.

Of course, the days are still long for the Redskins' defense since the offense has scored just four touchdowns during its tailspin, only one during the past three games. That includes zero in Sunday's 20-9 loss at Miami in which Rex Grossman returned at quarterback after three-plus games on the bench. Shanahan said Monday that Grossman will start again this week against Dallas.

"We're not pointing fingers," said Brian Orakpo, a Pro Bowl outside linebacker the past two seasons. "We're not going to blame anybody because we played a part in (the loss to the Dolphins) as well."

Inside linebacker London Fletcher, a Pro Bowl pick the past two years, noted that the defense, which had been fifth in third-down efficiency (67.3 percent), was beaten on eight of 14 third downs by the Dolphins who were last in the league at 26.3 percent.

"That was something that we've been great at all year long," Fletcher said. "If you don't win on third downs, it's going to be tough to win. We did enough (wrong) defensively to keep us from winning."

DeAngelo Hall, a Pro Bowl cornerback last year, noted that the offensive players didn't point fingers at the defense when the Redskins allowed the second-most yards in the league in 2010.

Although the Redskins nose-dived from a 2-2 start to a 4-12 finish during Orakpo's rookie year and from a 4-3 start to a 6-10 finish last season, he maintained that this team is "totally" different.

"For some reason, ever since that bye (after a 3-1 start), we've teetered off completely," Orakpo said. "That's the frustrating part. How we can just drop off so hard? We gotta continue to maintain, continue to fight for four quarters regardless of the outcome."

Strong safety LaRon Landry said he didn't know if his teammates could continue to play with the necessary passion after so much disappointment, but that he's not going to change his emotional, aggressive style.

"I want to win," he said. "I want to hit. I'm huntin.'"

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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