ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Jason Campbell cried after his first 300-yard game. And not because he was happy.
``There's only one play I remember out of the whole game,'' Campbell said Monday. ``That interception.''
Redskins coach Joe Gibbs took the handcuffs off Campbell in a big way Sunday, allowing the young quarterback to throw 54 passes, four short of the franchise record. Campbell completed 33 and finished with 348 yards, holding his own against Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys.
Yet on third-and-10 at the Dallas 19, with the winning touchdown in sight and less than two minutes to go, Campbell scrambled to his right and threw a dart directly to cornerback Terence Newman instead of receiver Antwaan Randle El. The rival Cowboys held on win 28-23, sinking the Redskins to 5-5.
It was enough to make anyone sob.
``I cried, too,'' left tackle Chris Samuels said. ``It was tough.''
Campbell took solace from familiar sources, talking to his brother and father after the game. The words ``Keep your head up'' and ``Keep fighting'' offered comfort after a loss that hurt more than usual because of its importance.
``You know, Dallas game, we're in our gut-check time of year,'' Campbell said. ``You just try to play your guts out.''
Yet this was a loss as positive as any for the Redskins this season. They were double-digit underdogs who kept the game close. It's easy to make the case that Washington would have won if menacing safety Sean Taylor, out with a knee injury, had been around to knock Terrell Owens off stride on any of T.O.'s four touchdown catches.
But moreso, the Redskins are seeing Campbell start to blossom. For the second week in a row, the coaches have played less conservative and put the game more into his hands.
``They've been giving me a lot of leeway, and we've been having the opportunity to score a lot of points,'' Campbell said. ``We've just got to find a way to convert those field goals to touchdowns. We have become more of an open-up offense, without a doubt.''
Washington is averaging 24 points in the last two games after averaging 19 over the first eight.
``I think what came out of the game was this: We can throw the ball pretty good if we have to,'' Gibbs said. ``So that's a good thing. You don't want to be throwing it that much - that's a bad thing. You want to have balance in what you do.''
Four drives that ended in field-goal attempts were a sore spot Monday, and they forced Gibbs to yet again defend an in-game strategy move. All the aggressiveness shown in the offense disappeared on fourth-and-1 at the Dallas 32 in the second quarter, when the coach opted for a long field goal rather than keep driving for a possible two-touchdown lead. Shaun Suisham missed wide left, and Dallas took advantage of the ensuing good field position to score a tying touchdown.
``I've got a lot of confidence in Shaun,'' Gibbs said. ``You're trying to get points there, so I thought that was the right thing to do.''
At .500, the Redskins can see the bottom and the top in the NFC at the same time. They are tied for last in their division, yet only one game out of a wild-card spot. Their next game is on the road against another contender, Tampa Bay (6-4), although the chances to make a move are running out.
``Maybe we can win five in a row like we did in '05,'' kick returner Rock Cartwright said. ``Right now we're just focusing on one. If we play like we did yesterday, we'll win those games that we need to win.''
However, unlike the playoff run of two years ago, this team isn't very healthy. Taylor will be out at least another week. Todd Wade, who took over at right tackle after a season-ending injury to Jon Jansen, is day to day after spraining a knee ligament in Sunday's game.
Santana Moss, aided by a modification of his shoe, overcame a bruised heel to have both his first 100-yard game and first touchdown of the season. But he was feeling the day-after effects and evaluated his performance by saying: ``Not quite like my old self.''
His teammates said they'd like to see Campbell continue to run an aggressive offense, even though the team is 0-2, the first losing streak of the season, since the reins have been loosened.
Had it not been for the interception, the record might be 1-1. In hindsight, Campbell said he should have run for the first down instead of forcing the pass to Randle El.
Lesson learned, the hard way.
``It's something I learn from - it's something I don't want to learn from,'' Campbell said. ``In that kind of situation, I'd rather learn from it being up by 21 or something.''

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