The Dallas Cowboys turned what should have been a blow-out into a shoot-out, but ended up prevailing on a David Buehler field goal with under a minute remaining in the game. The Cowboys were leading 27-7 in the second half, but then fell apart as Rex Grossman and the Redskins tied it up at 30-30 and had all the momentum in the game. After a brilliant punt by Mat McBriar, the Dallas defense stiffened, and after back-to-back sacks by Orlando Scandrick and Victor Butler, they got the ball in good field position at their own 48-yard line. Dallas drove the ball to the 21-yard line of the Redskins, and Buehler squeezed through the game-winning kick to save Dallas from disaster.
If the Cowboys were a great team, or even a good team, they would have put this game away in the first half. The Cowboys started almost every drive in excellent field position, and spent much of the half in the Redskins redzone. But forced into field goals too often, one that was unsuccessful right before the half, the Cowboys allowed the visitors to remain in the game. When Dallas took a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter, it looked like Dallas would cruise to victory over their arch-rival. That's when the 2010 version of the Dallas defense made its appearance, and turned Rex Grossman into a fantasy football star. Grossman threw for four touchdowns on the day, with 322 yards. Included among that scoring bonanza were two two-point conversions that were vital in the Redskins comeback effort. Grossman's day was marred by two interceptions and a fumble lost, but he made the Cowboys secondary irrelevant in the second half.
The Dallas offense was statistically having a good day - except in one of the most crucial categories. In the redzone, Dallas faltered repeatedly. David Buehler ended up with four field goals on the day, but that's just a testament to how inefficient the Cowboys offense was in the redzone. Felix Jones rushed for 70 yards on 12 carries, and Tashard Choice chipped in with 53 yards on 15 carries and added a touchdown. At times, the Cowboys rushing offense was chewing off large chunks of yards. Jon Kitna was also statistically good, 25 of 37 for 305 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. If Dallas would have converted its chances, this game would have been a blow-out.
It turned out to be a shoot-out. Dallas ran into some penalties that kept alive a couple of Redskins drives (one was totally unwarranted on Anthony Spencer). The Cowboys safeties struggled in the middle of the field, and were missing Gerald Sensabaugh for part of the game. Santana Moss got loose on Alan Ball a couple of times, and Chris Cooley was a one-man wrecking crew down the stretch of the game. Blown coverages and bad penalties contributed to the Cowboys having to fight for their life.
The player of the game for Dallas was tight end Jason Witten, he caught 10 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown. Witten was the passing offense for most of the day.
When you're a 4-9 team entering a game, and you're playing one of your biggest rivals, you have to be satisfied with a win. Coming out of that game with a victory means the Cowboys haven't taken a step backwards. They flirted with walking of the cliff backwards, but righted themselves just in time. So the outcome is rewarding. But Jason Garrett and his Cowboys still have a ways to go before they can be called a good team. They need to step on an opponent's throat when given the chance.
Still, as Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh once said, "I've love winning man, it's like better than losing."