The Cowboys have long enjoyed a special kind of dominance over the Washington Redskins. Entering the game, they led the season series an overwhelming 62-42-2, even accounting for last year's season sweep by Washington. They returned to form after taking 2012 off with a resounding home win, 31-16. The win improves Dallas' record to 3-3 and returns them to a first place tie atop the NFC East.
Things weren't all sunshine and giggles for the winning team, however. Running back DeMarco Murray left the game with a knee strain in the second quarter and was soon joined by Demarcus Ware who suffered a quad injury. Neither player returned to the game. Dallas' running game effectively ended when Murray went out, but the Dallas defense would not be denied.
Dallas harassed RGIII consistently on the night. Jason Hatcher recorded his fourth and fifth sacks on the year. Late in the contest, Kyle Wilber, playing in Ware's place, came from behind Griffin and took the ball out of his hands for the strip sack. Dallas' Joseph Randle would score his first professional touchdown two plays later.
The defense played remarkably well. Brandon Carr played lights out defense again, and has really only had one bad game on the season. He locked onto Pierre Garcon for the game. Orlando Scandrick, Dallas' other starting corner, had a great game himself, including a sprawling interception in the back of the end zone to seal the game for Dallas.
Like it or not, the Cowboys have scored over 30 points in four of the six games so far this season. This game, the main culprit was Rich Bisaccia's special team's unit. Not only did they change field position, but they also added a tally to the scoreboard.
Dwayne Harris should probably go ahead and make room on his mantle for a second NFC Special Teams Player of the Week trophy. Harris' two big returns, a punt return TD for 86 yards and a kickoff return for 90 yards to setup another score, led the way for the Cowboys tonight. Harris became the first Cowboy player to have a return longer than 50 yards in each category.
That 90 yarder set the Cowboys up for their first score of the second half, a beautiful Romodini moment where he was able to escape the pressure from a corner blitz before finding rookie WR Terrance Williams in the back corner of the end zone. Williams has now scored a touchdown in two straight games as he continues to put defenses (and Miles Austin) on notice that he has arrived in the NFL.
Romo didn't have the kind of statistical magic that he had last week against Denver, but assuredly would rather enjoy the win. He ended the game 18 for 30 for just 170 yards and the score. Romo did throw his third interception of the season when a tipped pass was corralled by Rob Jackson in the first half.
The Cowboys had to enter the game with revenge on their minds. Aided by a coaches decision while "walking around", Dallas would take a commanding lead on the Harris punt return, only after Jason Garrett made the Redskins punt again after an illegal motion penalty. Harris took the re-kick and scooted down the left sideline for the fifth-longest punt return in franchise history.
Dallas started off the game in impressive fashion. An opening run to DeMarco Murray between a huge hole inside LT Tyron Smith and LG Ron Leary netted an immediate first down. Completions on the drive to Murray, Witten and rookie WR Terrance Williams quickly and methodically brought Dallas to the doorstep of the end zone. Murray would punch it in from two yards out for his fifth carry and 37th yards for a quick 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys defense however, looked to return the poor tackling effort the Redskins showed and let Washington march right back down to a first and goal situation for themselves. The biggest culprit on the drive was Morris Claiborne not lowering his bad shoulder on a Jordan Reed play that resulted in a big first down. Fortunately, Sean Lee was there to stop Robert Griffin on a QB keeper on third down and force the Redskins to settle for just a field goal. Jerry Jones celebrated a moral victory for the club.
The Cowboys third drive started off the same as the first, as Dallas soon found themselves in Redskins territory. Unfortunately, a run by Murray ended up with him grabbing his knee and being replaced by Joseph Randle. Two plays later, Romo would try to find Cole Beasley on a hot read as Washington was unleashing their blitz package on that drive. Josh Wilson, who was leaving Beasley leapt, and tipped the ball, right into the hands of none other than LB Rob Jackson.
A nice effort by the Cowboys defensive line put Washington in 3rd and 14. First, Jason Hatcher knifed in for a a four-yard loss and then Selvie wrapped up Morris for no gain. Dallas got lucky on the ensuing punt, as Harris chose not to field it and the bouncing ball hit BW Webb in the behind before Washington fell on it.
The referees ruled that Webb was blocked into the ball and the Cowboys recovered. They wouldn't be able to do anything with the drive however and returned the ball to Washington.
Washington would have to punt for a second straight drive, but instead of pinning Dallas inside the 20, were called for an illegal motion penalty that led to Harris' touchdown. After the score, Washington would be aided by a dubious penalty on Dallas and kicked a field goal before the half to cut the score to 14-6.
Dallas will now prepare to take on the 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles in an early game next week in a battle for NFC East supremacy.