For a long time, there was a trend, almost a tradition, that when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington played, whoever was the underdog would win games when they should have had no chance. Unfortunately, Washington picked a horrible time to resurrect it.
The performance of the third string quarterback for Washington was the story of the night.
Colt McCoy directed Washington to Kai Forbath's 40-yard field goal in overtime and Dallas was unable to answer after Tony Romo returned from an apparent injury, sending the Redskins to a 20-17 victory on Monday night that snapped the Cowboys' six-game winning streak.
Dallas fans everywhere feared the worse when Tony Romo went down.
Romo left the game and was taken to the locker room after being sacked by Washington Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson in the third quarter.
Romo turned his back to absorb a blow from the blitzing Robinson and appeared to have taken a knee to his surgically repaired back on the play. Romo spent a few minutes down on the turf at AT&T Stadium before walking off the field incredibly gingerly while flanked by members of the team's training staff.
Romo would return, but he was not sharp and still took a beating under the relentless Washington blitzes.
While Romo was able to return, linebacker Justin Durant was not, and the ESPN coverage largely ignored that.
Sideline reporter Lisa Salters did a nice job on Romo injury. Somebody at ESPN needed to point out that Cowboys linebacker Justin Durant went out with an arm injury.
And the long term news may be worse.
Dallas Cowboys veteran linebacker Justin Durant is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his right biceps early in the fourth quarter Monday night against Washington, owner Jerry Jones said.
Durant, a co-defensive captain who starts in the key weak-side spot in the Cowboys' scheme, was having his best season in Dallas and one of the best years of his career.
And the hits just keep on coming. Mackenzy Bernadeau had to fill in for Ronald Leary, who strained his groin (this year's replacement for the hamstring injury) late in the game.
Leary is expected to undergo further tests Tuesday at Valley Ranch for the Cowboys to assess his status for Sunday's game against Arizona.
There are two things that were almost certainly the main factors in the loss. One was the turnovers given away by the Cowboys.
The first half was especially messy. The Cowboys turned the ball over on a Joseph Randle fumble after Washington managed a field goal, but McCoy managed to give the ball right back while trying to find his man in the end zone. It was a throw he didn't need to make, but he did, and J.J. Wilcox came down with the interception.
Then Murray, the dependable NFL leader in rushing yards, put the ball on the ground six plays later, giving Washington possession. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they held Washington back, got the ball back and Romo found Bryant for a 5-yard touchdown to take the lead. Two drives later, the messy first half came do an end.
The other thing was the sacks, many of which came during blitzes that the Cowboys just never quite seemed to figure out.
The Redskins wanted to make a statement to open the game, and that's exactly what they got on the Cowboys' opening possession.
After moving the ball to their own 41, Dallas faced a 3rd and 5 with quarterback Tony Romo lined up in the shotgun. When the ball was snapped, he barely had time to think - that's because safety
Brandon Meriweatherwas immediately in his face to earn the sack.
Meriweather - who was unblocked on the play off the edge - also executed a quality form tackle so that Romo couldn't escape like he's done so many times in the past against Washington. In the process, Meriweather also tied a career high with his second sack of the season.
Dallas certainly squandered a golden opportunity in this game.
The Cowboys, now 6-2, lost a chance to take control of the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles losing on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals. They also now must answer more question about the health of Romo, not to mention the health of linebacker Justin Durant, who left the game with an arm injury, and guard Ronald Leary, who suffered a groin injury.
The defense came up short, but it was hardly the meltdown that we saw repeatedly last season.
Not the best showing from the Cowboys defense this season, but there were some solid individual performances. Henry Melton came up with a couple of sacks, Rolando McClain was his usual self, Orlando Scandrick was strong at times in coverage, Jeremy Mincey was disruptive at times and Justin Durant led the group in tackles. Not their best effort, but also not quite as bad as last season.
Tim Cowlishaw glosses over the fact that Brandon Weeden was the quarterback for 10 of the 17 points that the Cowboys scored. He is just ready to assume that, despite him coming back into the game, that Romo's back has now doomed Dallas to failure.
Romo has played somewhere between good and great ever since halftime of the season opener against San Francisco. But the suspense about his surgically repaired back and his staying power as a 34-year-old quarterback in a violent league came roaring back to life Monday night.
"Obviously Tony's our quarterback,'' Garrett said. "If Tony's healthy and ready to go, he's gonna play.''
Was he really healthy or just functioning on pain relief late Monday night? Will he be healthy Sunday when the NFC's only 6-1 team comes to town?
I don't have that answer. Neither does Garrett nor anyone else.
The mothership takes the view that this was more on Dallas' failing to perform up to their ability.
It was bad, ugly really ... and it could have been a whole lot worse.
The Cowboys suffered a disappointing loss to an inferior team, putting up a frightful performance in losing to the lowly Redskins, 20-17, in front of 87,055 fans and a national television audience.
But the outcome seemingly could have been an afterthought once quarterback Tony Romo gingerly walked off the field and directly into the locker room. His night looked over when with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter, he took a blow directly to his surgically repaired lower back.
Sturm addresses several topics, including the failure to handle the blitzes and pressure.
It's (Redskins coordinator) Jim Haslett's recipe, disguising pressure and making you unsure of what you see. Honestly, I was kind of hoping the Cowboys were going to be past this stage. Tonight was an absolute great test to see if the 2014 version of the Cowboys' offense was more prepared to deal with Haslett and his antics, especially given no DeAngelo Hall to lock down on Dez Bryant. I thought it would be difficult to control the Cowboys' passing game like they did so many times before. However, the truth is pretty evident that the Cowboys are still searching for answers on how to deal with major pressure. Perhaps the byproduct of this is future opponents, including the blitz-happy Arizona Cardinals, will be studying and preparing their own tactics.
In some ways you would have to suggest the Cowboys lost by the recipe they have used against their opponents: Tactics and coaching.
The Washington head coach takes a similar view about how well Washington was able to move the ball at times.
"It's not about the Cowboys defense," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "It's about what we do with DeSean (Jackson), Pierre (Garcon), Andre (Roberts), obviously Jordan (Reed) and of course our running game. We get all three phases working in the running game, the play-action, the quick game, we're pretty hard to stop."
Not much fun to read about the loss. But let me leave you with one thought: If you had been offered a chance to guarantee that the Cowboys would be 6-2 at the halfway point of the season, or just been told you had to take your chances, would you not have grabbed that guarantee and been extremely happy?