Gibbs' emotional week ends badly

After the recent tragic death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, head coach Joe Gibbs said his team had entered uncharted territory.

"We have never dealt with anything like this," Gibbs said. "We are just taking it one hour at a time. It has been an emotionally chaotic week that has taken us completely off schedule."

Unfortunately for Gibbs, Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills ended with even more chaos. When Gibbs called consecutive timeouts to ice Bills kicker Rian Lindell, he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty allowed Lindell to move 15 yards closer and kick a game-winning, 36-yard field goal.

"I should have known the rule," Gibbs said.

The 64-year-old coach is in the fourth year of his second tenure as the Redskins coach. After the game, players said Gibbs admitted to them the crucial mistake was on him. Now we are left to wonder if the players' confidence in the coach could wane during the final month of the season.

In a week where both the players and coaches were suffering from emotional fatigue, Gibbs was uncertain how his team would perform on Sunday.

"It's always difficult to tell how the team will react," he said. "I never know."

It was a telling comment in light of the game's final moments. At a time when the Redskins are trying to separate their heads from their hearts and focus on playing the game of football, they are left with head-scratching questions which have led to even more heartache.

Dress rehearsal served Rodgers well

As the Green Bay Packers spent the week preparing for their epic battle with the Dallas Cowboys, backup quarterback Aaron Rodgers played the role of Tony Romo for the scout-team offense. Rodgers used his athleticism to mimic Romo's instinctive mobility to accurately portray the Cowboys' kid-like quarterback.

"I just did what came natural to me; it's the way I've always played," said Rodgers.

Simulating Romo's ability to create on the run turned out to be good rehearsal for Rodgers, who used those same skills to frustrate the Cowboys' defense after replacing Brett Favre midway through the first quarter of Thursday's game. With his gutsy performance, Rodgers seemed to surprise everyone but himself.

"I just went out and played my game," he said. "I obviously benefited from the opportunity to play my style. The coaches have seen what I can do, so I just go out and do it."

By leading the Packers on two scoring drives, Rodgers might have proved to his teammates that he's more than just a clipboard-holder waiting for Favre to retire. Three years removed from being the Packers' first-round draft pick, Rodgers has thrived without being coddled by his coaches or having his hand held by the 17-year-veteran Favre.

Rodgers' performance in Dallas also will ensure another miraculous recovery by Favre, who will have 10 days of rest before making his 250th consecutive career start.

Garrett thinking like a player

Not far removed from the playing field himself, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's play-calling resembles a no-nonsense, aggressive, attacking style seldom seen among established coaches around the NFL.

With the Green Bay Packers' three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson out with an injury, Garrett wasted no time attacking Woodson's replacement, Jarrett Bush, as the Cowboys scored on their first five possessions. Wide receivers Terrell Owens and Patrick Crayton were the weapons of choice in the first half, but after T.O handed Al Harris an easy interception in the end zone, Garret began to dial up plays to tight end Jason Witten.

Garrett displayed an awareness of his match-up advantages based on personnel. Packers SS Atari Bigby already had been beaten for more than 100 yards receiving in games where he covered TEs Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Chris Cooley.

Garrett's play-calling also shows he is not afraid to feed the ball to the most obvious threat on the field. Getting the ball to T.O early and often has kept the Cowboys' star quiet, confident and productive, which is a huge credit to Garrett.

Solomon Wilcots, a former NFL defensive back, is an analyst on the NFL Network as well as a color commentator for CBS football telecasts.

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