Dallas had two fourth quarter drives tonight. The first was an 8 play, 67 yarder that put the Cowboys in the lead. The last was a sustained gut punch -- thirteen plays, 46 yards that bled the final 6:40 off the clock and gave the Cowboys a hard fought 14-10 win.
The game showed the value of the long-lost Cowboys. Kyle Kosier's return gave Dallas an inside push they've lacked for weeks. Marion Barber began the game running a series of tosses left and right around the Redskins and then ripped them inside the second half.
The real ignitor was Terence Newman. He followed Santana Moss everywhere, holding the former Cowboys killer to 5 catches for 29 yards. Moss' game-long 13 yarder came against Mike Jenkins.
Dallas was staggered on Washington's opening drive. The Redskins opened as they left Texas Stadium last month, running Clinton Portis on a 49 yard touchdown drive, the short field provided by a 15-yard facemask penalty against Pat Watkins in Dallas' punt.
From that point the Cowboys held the Redskins to 52 yards on their subsequent four first-half drives. Dallas got outstanding games from both nose tackles, as Jay Ratliff and Tank Johnson combined for six tackles, running down several stretch plays in pursuit.
Washington tried spreading the Cowboys and taking shots but Dallas played inspired press coverage and got a strong push with four men. Jason Campbell had to settle for short passes; his game YPA was only 4.8 and he completed just one pass of more than 15 yards.
The holds were essential because the offense had difficutly finding a consistent rhythm. The early game plan had Tony Romo throwing a lot of short routes -- smoke patterns, slants and crosses. Much of Dallas' production came on the ground. Dallas got some early success running a toss right, with tackle Marc Colombo pulling and later crossed up Washington by running the same play left.
Twice, the Cowboys slouched inside the Washington 30, only to surrender the ball. Romo had Owens wide open on a slant from the slot that would have put Dallas at 1st and 10 inside the Redskins' 20 but he threw a full step behind T.O. and into D'Angelo Hall's hands.
In the 2nd quarter, Romo again throw low and behind Owens. The errant pass did not give Owens a chance to secure the ball and Fred Smoot's hit knocked the ball high into the air. Rocky McIntosh caught the deflection and the Cowboys held at 0-7.
Dallas finally found its bearings late in the second quarter, driving 80 yards in seven plays. Jason Garrett started calling passes down field and Romo converted. He found Roy Williams for 13 yards on a comeback to convert a 3rd and five. He then hit Jason Witten on a deep out for 28 and hit Owens for 25 yards on the following play. Owens had been running short patterns from the slot and this time broke upfield before taking his route cross field.
The completion put Dallas on the Washington two and Marion Barber bulled in on a shot-gun formation draw to even the game.
The tie was short lived as the Dallas special teams gave up a long return to Rock Cartwright. Mike Jenkins would redeem himself in coverage in the second half but on this play backed out of his lane to avoid a collision with Ron Sellars and surrended the lane that Cartright crossed on his way to the Dallas 38. The great field position let Washington get a field goal nine seconds before half.
Washington got the second half kickoff and made their longest sustained drive of the half, converting three 3rd down plays on short passes. The last two being screens and delays that beat Dallas blitzes. The drive fizzled when Newman jumped an out route to Moss on 3rd and 2 and picked off the ball on the Dallas 35.
The teams traded punts until the early 4th, when the Cowboys started on their 33. Five consecutive Barber runs ground out 33 yards. Romo kept the drive alive on 3rd and 7 when he scrambled forward and away from pressure and heaved a shovel pass to Miles Austin, who was running a shallow cross. Austin gained eight, to the Washington 25.
On the next play Romo lofted a perfect seam pass to Martellus Bennett, who plucked the ball over Chris Horton and fell into the end zone.
-- Wade Phillips worked with Buddy Ryan at Philly for a year. He picked up some tricks. Dallas deployed in a 46 Bear package on Jay Ratliff's first sack. The package put Ratliff on the nose, with DTs on each side of him covering guards. Redskins C Casey Rabach had to handle Ratliff solo and couldn't.
-- It is Miles Austin's time? He's been the 3rd receiver with Roy Williams and Terrell Owens.
-- Kyle Kosier had an early holding penalty but he's also been just what the doctor ordered. The Dallas pass pocket has been much, much better tonight. Kosier can anchor against bull rushers, something Cory Proctor could not do with any regularity. Tony Romo has had time to check down on his progressions.
-- The Redskins are going as lot to 4 WR, 1 TE sets and the Cowboys have handled it very well through a half.
-- Mike Jenkins backed away from Ron Sellars and gave up his lane on Rock Cartwright's long kickoff return. Cartwright ran straight through the gap Jenkins created.
-- Think Terence Newman is healthy? Ask Santana Moss.
-- The Redskins had one complete pass downfield, on a max protection throw to Antwaan Randle-El, who was covered by a limping Anthony Henry. Henry was immediately replaced by Mike Jenkins.