Five candidates

You know it's a bad game when you can't identify the main reason for losing a game. It means you have too many candidates to choose from. So I'm proposing five candidates. Which one do you think was the one that shaped this game into a Dallas loss? These are presented in no particular order.

T.O. drops the big one

He dropped an apparent 74-yard touchdown pass that would've given the Cowboys a 14-point third-quarter lead over Washington, sucking the life from the Redskins.

Instead, Washington beat Dallas, 22-19, on a field goal with no time left.

So put this loss on T.O.

Others will focus on the blocked field goal try that set up Washington's winning kick, the 153 yards in penalties or the silly decision to go for two points in the first quarter.

None of that matters if Owens doesn't drop a sure touchdown.


Penalties, including Kyle Kosier's facemask.
With ice on his right ankle, Marco Rivera stood in front of his locker with the expression of a man full of disbelief, physical pain, emotional pain, and regret.

"It's killing us. It's killing us," the Cowboys guard said of his team's proclivity for penalties. "How many penalties did we have?"

Two lockers down, center Andre Gurode sat in a chair and looked up, saying, "A lot."

If a season-high 11 penalties for a season-high 153 yards is "a lot," then Gurode is right. And if the third-most penalty yards in team history is "a lot," he's double right.


Parcells charts a bad course with an early 2-point try.
Had the Cowboys kicked the extra point, they theoretically would have held a 20-19 lead and could have run out the clock after Nick Novak missed a 49-yard field goal with 31 seconds left in the game. The Cowboys would have also held a 13-12 lead at the half.

Parcells said he goes by the chart regardless of the quarter.

"I go by the chart," Parcells said.

The Cowboys also would have taken a 20-12 lead in the third, which would have likely forced Washington to go for two points after its final touchdown early in the fourth.


The blocked FG
But a strange thing happened on the Cowboys' road to victory: A game that began with a safety ended with a thud. Witten blocked out on Carlos Rogers, allowing Vincent to go inside untouched, according to Vincent.

Vincent, a 15-year veteran who signed with the Redskins less than three weeks ago, made the first field-goal block of his NFL career.

"I hadn't even played on special teams since the late 1990s," Vincent said.

[snip]

"I got the ball off in the same amount of time I always get it off in, and I hit it good," said Vanderjagt, who has had nine kicks blocked in his NFL career. "For a guy that's kicked thousands of balls in his life, I knew it was going in just by the way it came off my foot. ...I felt like we were off to the races in winning the game."


Bad secondary play, again.
The main culprits to the Cowboys' secondary woes Sunday chose not to explain breakdowns after the loss to the Redskins.

[snip]

Roy Williams and Anthony Henry did make some plays, but it's the plays they didn't make at FedExField that will be remembered.

Of the Cowboys' 11 penalties, four were on the secondary. Two on Henry and Williams totaled 77 yards.

Williams made the biggest penalty among the secondary players when he failed, again, to track the flight of the ball on a deep pass and was called for interference.


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