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DeAngelo Hall Wants Words, Not Actions, To Speak For Him

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

This story appeared on page B1 of Thursday’s Free Lance-Star

ASHBURN — Whether it came from the Dallas Cowboys or the league itself, DeAngelo Hall expected a bill to be sitting in his locker when he arrived at Redskins Park yesterday morning.

The Washington Redskins cornerback figured he’d be fined, claiming he broke “a few things down there” after the 18-16 road loss on Monday. He also thought he’d hear from either the league or the team after a post-game tirade.

That led him to call a press conference after the team’s walkthrough yesterday morning, in which he said he was “a little overzealous” and apologized for comments that included several expletives and implied criticism of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett for his play calling late in the game.

“You guys know me,” Hall said. “Passionate about football. I definitely thought that was a ball game we should have won, so it was pretty frustrating.”

The Redskins were leading by one point when, with 2:10 remaining, quarterback Tony Romo found Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain. The Cowboys were facing third and 21 from their own 30-yard line and Haslett called an all-out blitz, with Hall dropping into man coverage on Bryant.

Romo motioned for Bryant to make a play and get open as Redskins linebacker London Fletcher arrived, and shortly before Fletcher hit the quarterback, Romo found Bryant streaking down the middle of the field.

The blitz worked earlier in the game, with linebacker Ryan Kerrigan hitting Romo as he threw and forcing a fumble on the first play of the third quarter. Kevin Barnes came up with an interception to conclude that drive.

When asked after the game about the blitz on third and 21, at which point it was noted it did work earlier in the half, Hall objected.

“Yeah, but sooner or later somebody’s gonna [expletive] figure it out,” Hall said. “You don’t have to be a [expletive] rocket scientist to figure it out after a while.”

Then, when asked if it was a bad play, Hall responded, “You tell me. The end result was a first down.”

Head coach Mike Shanahan wouldn’t share the details of his conversation with Hall since the game, but did say that the two talked. He also alluded to an apology by Hall, but when asked directly if Hall apologized, he said he didn’t want to talk about their conversation.

“I understand that there’s frustrations,” Shanahan said. “I’ve said some things after a game that I’d like to have back. Usually, when you’re in the business for a while, you learn to keep the emotions in you for a while, at least for 24 hours, and then you can come back and say some different things.”

What also rankled Hall was that officials threw a flag for an additional 15-yard penalty at the end of the play, claiming Hall grabbed Bryant’s face mask. He appeared to inadvertently have hit Bryant in the face mask, but did not bring the receiver down by it.

“I still don’t think it was a face mask. I didn’t get a fine by the league, so obviously, they didn’t think it was a face mask either,” Hall said. “But you know what? We’ve just got to keep going — keep going, keep playing.”

Hall’s comments carried a bit more weight given his status as a team captain. But several players, including Chris Cooley, said they didn’t mind what Hall said, given that he was saying what he believed.

“D-Hall is D-Hall and everyone knows that,” Cooley said. “He says what he says. For the most part, we take D-Hall as a leader on this team–a guy that we count on and a guy that plays well. He says what he wants to say and no one in this locker room is going to say anything about it.

“Obviously he gets stressed a little bit in a team situation, not in an individual basis, but just comes on a little bit, but it doesn’t hurt my feelings.”

As for Fletcher, the team’s other defensive captain, most of it can be tied to the close loss.

“I think a lot of times, when things happen, there’s emotion that comes into play, and everyone’s disappointed that we lost,” Fletcher said. “We’re all disappointed in the loss. DeAngelo’s a very competitive player, a person, and you just move on, move forward from that.”

Hall said several times the mistake was his responsibility. After all, as a cornerback, making a play on a receiver with the game on the line is something he should relish.

“For me personally to be the reason we lost the game, it’s frustrating,” Hall said. “This week in practice, if I’m going to have to step it up, I’m going to have to step it up. I’m going to have to give it all in practice, then, [to] be ready for the game.”

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