They've seen it done to them so many times in the past, Dallas decided to remind everybody that they are pretty good at this come from behind stuff, too. On fourth and goal from their 11 with just over one minute remaining in the game, and possibly their season, Tony Romo found DeMarco Murray in front of the right pylon for a go-ahead score in a game they looked destined to lose. Dallas' defense was able to corral Kirk Cousins' Redskins on a final drive and Dallas escaped the road trip 24-23 for their fifth NFC East victory in five tries. Dallas stays alive in the quest for the 2014 playoffs.
A lot can be said about struggling against a 3-11 team that had lost six in a row and was working with a backup quarterback. But in a rivalry game, against a defensive coordinator that knows the gameplan to disrupt the offense, Dallas scoring on back-to-back fourth quarter drives was about as elating an experience as a fan could ask for.
On a unseasonably warm but sloppy day in Landover, MD, the Cowboys entered an early game with everything on the line. A loss would effectively end their season, all but eliminating them from the playoff hunt. A loss wouldn't have eliminated Dallas, but it would have rested their fates in Philadelphia's hands as they took on the Chicago Bears in the Sunday night game.
A win would guarantee a win-or-stay-home contest in AT&T Stadium next Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. After racing to an eight-point halftime lead, Dallas let Washington score 17 straight points. Dallas would respond with a field goal, and get a stop to earn the ball back. With 87 yards to go and about 3 and a half minutes, Tony Romo would have to drive to save the season.
Incomplete to Terrance Williams. 2nd and 10, complete to Williams on the left sideline for 15. Incomplete to Dez Bryant. 2nd and 10, Romo finds Williams wide open on the right sideline for a huge 51 yard gain with just over three minutes left. Romo finds Dez Bryant on screen who powers inside the Washington 5. Murray left tackle for 3 to the one. Second and goal, Murray stuffed. Third and goal, Murray stuffed and tries to change direction, loses 11 yards. 4th and goal from the 11, time out Dallas. Out the timeout, Dallas confusion in the huddle, barely get the ball snapped, Romo rolls right out the pocket, pump fakes, finds Murray who leaked out and stretched into the end zone for the winning go-ahead score.
Murray would finish another monster game with just under 96 ground yards after the last loss, but with 15 through the air and one score each way. Romo would wind up 17 for 27 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. His game-winning drive would be his 23rd of his career, tying Roger Staubach for the most in franchise history.
During the fourth quarter, Romo appeared to seriously hurt his right leg, spinning out of a would-be sack. Rob Jackson, last year's villain, hit Romo, who would hobble and limp for the remainder of the drive that netted Dallas 3. Someone must have told Romo to pour some tussin on it, because he was right back out there for the game-winning drive, proving that it's too early to bury this team's season.
That was the theme of today as several Cowboys appeared seriously injured but ended up back in the game. That included Dez Bryant with a first quarter shoulder, and linebackers (surprise) Kyle Wilber and DeVonte Holloman. Safety Barry Church also missed some time while LB Bruce Carter hurt his arm but never came out.
The Cowboys much-maligned and even more so injured defense would end the game with no sacks, but they did enough, especially when it counted. Pierre Garcon simply abused Brandon Carr, but Dallas switched up and often put Orlando Scandrick on him down the stretch, including a huge third down play that got Dallas the ball back for the game-winning drive.
Garcon would end up with 11 catches for 144 yards, but none after a 19 yarder on a third quarter drive. Dallas would allow Alfred Morris 88 yards on 24 carries, for just a 3.7 ypc average, and wouldn't let any other gain more than 14 yards.
In the opening game between the two rivals, Dallas controlled the action thanks to an incredible return game by Dwayne Harris. With Harris out nursing a bad hamstring, it was a concern Dallas wouldn't be able to capitalize on Washingtons putrid special teams, but after an early three and out, newly signed return specialist Michael Spurlock took the first punt 65 yards back inside the Redskins 5. Two plays later, Demarco Murray was in the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
The Cowboys then employed their bend but don't break defense against Washington. After holding the Redskins on the following drive, Washington got a nice punt bounce that pinned Dallas inside their 5. A three and out gave Washington the ball inside the Dallas side of the field and a short drive to field goal range put Washington on the board.
After another failed Dallas drive, Washington marched the field and reached inside the Dalals five, when they had two consecutive penalties that resulted in a second field goal and a 7-6 score.
Dallas would march the field behind the running of Demarco Murray, who would end up over 100 yards on the day and over 1,000 on the season. He's the first Cowboys RB to pass the milestone since Julius Jones in 2004. A huge 43 yard run was followed by a 30 yard completion to Dez Bryant and the drive was sealed by a patented Romo escape to find Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone for a 14-6 halftime lead.
The Cowboys fortunes changed at the half, however. New fullback Tyson Clutts fumbled a reception and Washington turned that into a touchdown. On the next drive, the Cowboys refused to attempt a run in a game where they were averaging 7 yards a carry and on third down, Romo badly telegraphed a pass to Bryant that DeAngelo Hall intercepted. The Redskins ran Alfred Morris consistently and were soon sporting their first lead of the game, 20-14.
On the Cowboys next defensive possession, they looked as if they had a stop, but a unnecessary roughness call on rookie safety JJ Wilcox gave the Redskins a fresh set of downs inside field goal territory and they pushed the lead to 9.
Dallas somehow found the fortitude to get two scoring drives in the fourth quarter, and now sit at 8-7 for the year. For now, next Sunday's game against the Eagles, in Dallas, is scheduled for 1pm ET on Fox, but is a possibility to be flexed to Sunday night on NBC for a do-or-die matchup.
Dallas is now 64-40-2 against Washington in the regular season and they swept the season series for the third time in five years.