Dallas 27, Washington 24 (OT): Field Goal Makes Up for Poor Punt Coverage
The Cowboys managed their third consecutive win on Sunday by beating the Redskins 27-24 on a Dan Bailey field goal in overtime. The kick came eight plays after Washington’s Graham Gano missed a 52-yarder that would have given the Redskins the win.
This marks the first three-game winning streak for Dallas since the end of the 2009 season. The Cowboys could be just a game behind the Giants if the Eagles can find a way to beat New York on Sunday night.
For a quarter and a half, the Cowboys looked as if they would roll to a easy win at FedEx Field. Thanks to a TD pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, Dallas held a 10-0 lead, and Washington was having trouble making first downs.
On a 3rd-and-1 play for the Redskins at the Washington 29, Rex Grossman tried a QB sneak. He appeared to lose a fumble, which Barry Church recovered and returned to the 1-yard line. However, the Redskins successfully challenged the play, and Washington was able to punt. Sav Rocca banged a 63-yard punt, and though Akwasi Owusu-Ansah managed a return, a penalty pushed the ball back to the Dallas 5. The Cowboys followed that with a three-and-out.
Mat McBriar—who never shanks a punt—shanked the punt. Washington got the ball at the Dallas 32, and six plays later, Grossman ran for a score to cut the Dallas lead to 10-7.
The Dallas offense went nowhere and were forced to punt. Brandon Banks returned the ball into Dallas territory, and the Redskins were in business again. Six plays later, Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown that gave the Redskins the lead.
In eight minutes, the entire complexion of the game changed, and it looked as if the game could start to slip away from the Cowboys.
Washington took the kickoff to open the second half and drove 55 yards to set up Gano’s only field goal of the game. Dallas responded with a three-and-out, and Banks gave the Redskins another boost with a 55-yard punt return.
However, the Redskins could not move the ball, and Gano’s 49-yard attempt went wide right.
Dallas was in business, and the offense took advantage. The Cowboys went on a 14-play drive that ended early in the fourth quarter with a TD pass from Romo to Laurent Robinson.
The Cowboys defense forced a punt, the offense promptly moved the ball from the Dallas 12 to the Dallas 41. On a 3rd-and-8 play, Romo rolled to his right and found Jason Witten, who found a seam. Witten took the pass all the way for a score, giving Dallas a 24-17 lead.
On the next play from scrimmage, Orlando Scandrick picked off Grossman, and it looked as if Dallas could put the game away. However, Dallas was forced to punt with 5:45 left in the game.
Washington took the ball at its own 11, and Grossman found holes in the Dallas secondary. With just 22 seconds left, Grossman found Donte Stallworth in the left corner of the end zone to tie the game at 24.
The Redskins drove from their own 18 to the Dallas 33. On a 3rd and 7, Grossman rolled right and slid, taking a sack. It left the ball at the Dallas 34, setting up Gano for a 52-yard attempt. He missed to the right.
Dallas moved into Washington territory but faced a 3rd-and-15 from midfield. Romo made a huge play, buying time in the pocket before hitting Bryant for a 26-yard gain.
The play set up Bailey to try to make his 25th consecutive kick. The kick moved to the right and looked as if it might go wide, but it ended up just inside the crossbar.
Romo threw three touchdowns without an interception. Nine different Cowboys caught passes in the game.
McBriar only averaged 24.1 yards per punt (net average) on seven punts. That was the ugly part of the game. However, Bailey helped the special teams effort, making both of his attempts while Gano missed two of three.