In a game where special teams threatened to derail all of the progress this team has made over the last two weeks, kicker Dan Bailey booted the Cowboys to a 27-24 overtime win over the Washington Redskins. Luckily, Mike Shanahan attempted to ice Bailey and saved the Cowboys goose (turkey?) by calling a timeout as the play clock was winding down. Holder Tony Romo was attempting to call the timeout himself, but Dallas didn't have any and would have incurred a delay of game penalty if he wasn't saved. Bailey came on and snuck the kick inside the right goal post, his 25th in a row, providing Cowboys fans everywhere some relief.
Dallas appeared completely out of sync in the second quarter, letting an early 10-0 lead turn into a 14-10 halftime deficit on the heels of horrible punts and big returns by Brandon Banks. The second half however saw the Redskins special teams implode, as Graham Gano missed two field goals, including one on the opening drive of overtime. The Cowboys got the ball in great field position, converted a huge third down, and Dan Bailey kicked this team to a victory and a 6-4 record heading into the Thanksgiving Day game.
The Cowboys defense had a chance to close the game out and couldn't. After an pop-fly interception by Orlando Scandrick, Dallas was forced to punt and pinned Washington at their 11 with five minutes plus left on the clock. Washington marched 89 yards downfield using all but 14 seconds, tying the game on a Donte Stallworth fade route on 3rd and goal. Washington won the kick and drove downfiled before Gano missed the 52 yards field goal.
Tony Romo, who escaped pressure throughout the game with spin moves, skated out of the pocket on a big third down and found Dez Bryant free of DeAngelo Hall for 26 yards to move into field goal range. Two play later, Bailey was on the field for what seemed like an eternity.
The Cowboys were able to right their offensive ship in the late third quarter, then Romo found Laurent Robinson for a seven yard score to start the fourth and tie the game. On their next possession, the Cowboys converted two key 3rd and 8's, the second a beautiful Romo scramble and deep pass to Jason Witten. Witten had ran a curl from the right slot, saw Romo escape and signaled his best friend he was going deep. Romo hit him in stride and The Senator outraced the Redskins defense, with the help of a downfield block, and scored on the 59 yard completion.
Romo finished the game with 292 yards and three touchdowns, on 23 of 32 passing. His numbers don't do justice to his ability to make plays in crucial moments. In the first half, Romo was only 2 for 7 on 3rd down passing conversions, although that included the first TD of the game, a great pass to Dez Bryant who had worked free of DeAngelo Hall. Most of the incompletes were on attempts to Laurent Robinson; with whom Romo struggled to get on the same page with.
In the second half, Romo went 4 for 6 on third down throws with two more touchdowns. One was the TD to Robinson, another the TD to Witten and the last, the crucial connection to Dez Bryant. Bryant hadn't made a catch since the end of the first quarter.
The Cowboys hung on despite a run game that clearly missed fullback Tony Fiammetta. 30 rushes for 91 yards is all that the team could muster as rookie phenom DeMarco Murray was repeatedly met in the hole by Washington defenders. Numerous penalties also put the team in precarious positions on several occasions. Several players, notably Orlando Scandrick and Mat McBriar, played possibly their worst games of the season. Yet still, the Cowboys found a little mojo and escaped with their playoff hopes still bouncing in their heads.
BTB will have much more in the coming days, even with the short week. For now, wipe your forhead, thank whatever higher power you believe in and start to get ready for Matt Moore and the suddenly potent Miami Dolphins.