2012 Season

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Not Many Home Overtime Games for the Cowboys

Dan Bailey’s 32-yard field goal sent Sunday’s game into overtime. It marked the first overtime game at Cowboys Stadium.

The Cowboys’ 23-20 win over the Cleveland Browns was the first overtime game at Cowboys Stadium. In fact, it was the first home overtime game for the Cowboys since 2005.

The NFL first adopted overtime rules in 1974. Since then, the Cowboys have played in 31 overtime games, compiling a record of 18-13 (including Sunday’s win over Cleveland).

Only nine of those game came a home, however. Until Sunday, the Cowboys had a record of 4-4 in home overtime games dating back to 1975. With the win over the Browns, the Cowboys’ record is now 5-4.

Here’s a list of those home overtime games:

Rk Tm Year Date Time LTime Opp W# G# Day Result OT
1 DAL 2012 2012-11-18 1:04 12:04 CLE 11 10 Sun W 23-20 OT
2 DAL 2005 2005-11-24 4:15 3:15 DEN 12 11 Thu L 21-24 OT
3 DAL 2005 2005-10-16 1:00 12:00 NYG 6 6 Sun W 16-13 OT
4 DAL 2000 2000-10-29 4:15 3:15 JAX 9 8 Sun L 17-23 OT
5 DAL 1994 1994-09-19 9:00 8:00 DET 3 3 Mon L 17-20 OT
6 DAL 1987 1987-11-26 4:00 3:00 MIN 11 11 Thu L 38-44 OT
7 DAL 1984 1984-10-21 9:45 8:45 NOR 8 8 Sun W 30-27 OT
8 DAL 1983 1983-10-09 4:00 3:00 TAM 6 6 Sun W 27-24 OT
9 DAL 1975 1975-09-28 2:00 1:00 STL 2 2 Sun W 37-31 OT
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/20/2012.
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Dallas 23, Cleveland 20: An Outrageous Win

Tony Romo‘s typical throwing position on Sunday.

Some definitions of outrageous:

a : going beyond all standards of what is right or decent

b: deficient in propriety or good taste

This brings us to the Cowboys’ 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys fielded a patchwork offensive line featuring Mackenzy Bernadeau at center and Derrick Dockery at right guard. Tyron Smith suffered an ankle injury, requiring Jermey Parnell to play left tackle.

It makes sense, then, that Tony Romo spent much of the day running for his life. He was pressured 10 times and suffered 7 sacks. When the team tried to help Romo, the line and others just decided to hold. In fact, on two different plays, the referees called two different Cowboys for holding.

Right tackle Doug Free is not a backup, nor was he hurt. But he turned in one of the the worst plays of the game, allowing Jabaal Sheard to sack Romo. Dan Dierdorf’s comment: “Wow. That’s inferior play.”

And that summed up the Cowboys’ pathetic, gutless, awful performance during the first 35 minutes or so of Sunday’s game. Fortunately for Dallas, the Browns entered the game at 2-7 for a reason.

First, Dallas stopped the Browns on Cleveland’s opening drive of the first half. Second, the Cowboys scored on their next drive to cut the Cleveland lead to 13-3. Third, Dallas held Cleveland to a three-and-out.

The Cowboys had come to life and took the lead thanks to two fourth-quarter touchdowns. On the go-ahead drive midway through the fourth, fullback Lawrence Vickers made the most critical three-yard reception in recent memory when he leaped in the air to grab the catch on a 4th-and-1 play. The play extended a drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant.

On the next drive, Almost Anthony Spencer almost had an interception. One play later, he dropped the Almost from his name and sacked Brandon Weeden, stripped the ball, and recovered the fumble.

Dallas 17. Cleveland 13. Ball on the Cleveland 18. 5:45 remaining.

Get all that? Most teams punch the ball in and put the game away.

Not Dallas. The Cowboys were called for holding, moving the ball back to the 28. One play later, Romo dropped back to pass but faced pressure.

Secure the ball?

Aw, hell no.

Romo fumbled it right back to the Browns, who promptly drove 64 yards to the Dallas 1.

Somehow, though, the Cowboys held the Browns without a touchdown. With 1:42 remaining, Dallas needed a first down or two to secure the win.

Of course, starting from the 1 was difficult. Dallas gained three yards, which barely gave Brian Moorman room to breathe. Moorman hit a 49-yard punt, but it was a line drive that Josh Cribbs fielded easily en route to a 21-yard return. Moreover, John Phillips was called for a horse-collar tackle, even though it appeared that Phillips grabbed Cribbs’ hair.

The next play was Weeden’s 18-yard touchdown pass to Benjamin Watson. The genius and pregnant defensive coordinator on the Cowboys sideline was once again late putting personnel on the field.

Now the Cowboys trailed 20-17.

Romo managed to move the ball back downfield, thanks largely to two penalties on the Cleveland defense. Dallas had the ball at the Cleveland 14 with 23 seconds remaining.

Remember those problems with time management? Such as the problems that cost the Cowboys the win over Baltimore?

Well, how about a delay-of-game penalty from the Cleveland 9 with 12 seconds left? Impressed?

Dan Bailey kicked a field goal to send the game to overtime. It marked the first time the Cowboys have had an overtime game at Cowboys Stadium.

The teams exchanged punts. Dwayne Harris showed why Dez Bryant should not return another punt this year, as Harris helped save the Cowboys for the second straight week. His 20-yard return put Dallas in good shape, and the Cowboys managed to drive the ball into field goal range. Bailey’s 38-yard field goal gave Dallas the win.

If the events that happened before win weren’t enough, Jerry Jones had to add to the excitement. His quote:

I’m really pleased with the offensive line, as it is as we sit here right now with the win.

There is no single profane word that describes my verbal reaction to this statement. I’ll stick with vanilla and just say Outrageous.

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All Simulations Favor Cowboys

The simulations have the Cowboys beating the Browns by about a touchdown.

Dallas 38, Philadelphia 23: It Must Be November

Felix Jones found the end zone for the third time in 2012.

Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback in Dallas during six of the last seven months of November (he was injured in 2010). Heading into Sunday’s game at Philadelphia, Romo had a record of 19-4 during those November games.

Romo played a good part of his 24th November game on his back, thanks to an offensive line that could not give Romo more than three seconds to get rid of the ball. The defense wasn’t helping, thanks to a number of penalties on third downs.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys knocked Michael Vick out the game and held a 10-7 lead at the half.

The Cowboys went three and out to open the second half, however, and rookie QB Nick Foles drove the Eagles into Dallas territory. On 1st and 20, Foles threw a pass into the end zone to a wide open Jeremy Maclin. The touchdown gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game.

The Cowboys went three and out again.

The Eagles drove down and added a field goal.

Philadelphia 17, Dallas 10, and it looked like the story for the game would be an obituary for the season.

With 2:14 left in the the third quarter, Dallas faced a 3rd and 5. Romo once again did not have time to throw the ball. However, he maneuvered in the pocket and bought enough time to find Miles Austin on a 25-yard reception. Three plays later, Romo hit Dez Bryant in the end zone on a deep post. Replay officials confirmed that the play was a touchdown.

No more obituary. From that point, the Cowboys took control.

Former Cowboy Mat McBriar punted with just under 14 minutes left in the game. Dwayne Harris headed towards the left sideline and found a lane. He raced 78 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cowboys the lead once again.

On the next Eagle drive, Brandon Carr picked off a pass that bounced off the foot of DeSean Jackson. Carr returned the pick for another score. Suddenly, it was Dallas 31, Philadelphia 17.

Philadelphia managed to score with just under two minutes left, but Alex Henery missed the extra point. The Eagles held the Cowboys and got the ball back at their own 11 with 53 seconds remaining.

But there was no magic finish for the Eagles. Anthony Spencer sacked Foles and stripped the ball. Jason Hatcher recovered the fumble in the end zone, giving Dallas its third touchdown on defense or special teams in the fourth quarter alone.

The game did not start out especially well for the Dallas defense. Two encroachment penalties gave the Eagles first downs, and Riley Cooper made a great catch in the end zone to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.

The Cowboys came right back, though, driving 80 yards on 13 plays. Felix Jones took a short pass 11 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

Both offenses struggled for much of the first half. Romo’s 49-yard pass to Dez Bryant with six minutes left in the second quarter helped to set up a field goal that gave the Cowboys their 10-7 halftime lead.

The Cowboys had good fortune earlier in the day as well. The Giants lost to the Bengals, giving New York a 6-4 record. If Dallas beat Cleveland next week, the Cowboys will be just one game out in the NFC East.

 

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Atlanta 19, Dallas 13: Just Enough Mistakes to Lose

Jason Garrett (Princeton graduate, left) tries to remind Mike Smith (East Tennessee State University graduate, right) about the value of an Ivy League degree on an NFL sideline.

When the schedule came out for the 2012 season, most (including me) looked at December, because that’s when the Dallas Cowboys usually implode.

Then we looked at the middle of the schedule—three straight road games against the Giants, Falcons, and Eagles. The pessimists said the Cowboys would lose all three. After tonight’s loss to the Falcons, Dallas is two-thirds of the way there.

[Correction (11/5): Dumb mistake on my part. The Cowboys play three road games in four weeks, but the Giants game last week was at home. The other road game was at Carolina.]

Yes, the Cowboys played the only unbeaten team in the league very tough. Yes, the Cowboys could have had a chance to win with just one more defensive stop with less than five minutes remaining.

But this is the modern-era Cowboys. We should know better.

With a 16-13 lead, the Falcons faced a 3rd-and-6 from their own 24 with just under 4 minutes left. Matt Ryan threw to Jacquizz Rodgers in the flat. Orlando Scandrick just had to make a tackle to force a punt. Rodgers instead broke the tackle and raced 31 yards past midfield.

Three plays later, the Falcons faced a 3rd-and-8.  The Cowboys appeared to force an incomplete pass, but the referees called Scandrick for defensive holding.

From there, Atlanta ran the clock down and kicked a field goal. There were no miracles in store for the Cowboys, who fell to 3-5 with the loss.

At least the second half was a bit lively. The first half featured a total of four field goals. Dallas drove into the red zone twice in the first quarter before stalling and having to settle for field goals. The Falcons then tied the game with two of their own in the second quarter.

The Cowboys moved into Atlanta territory on the first possession of the second half, but the drive stalled. The Cowboys did not manage to move into Atlanta territory until midway through the fourth quarter.

By then, the Falcons had built a 16-6 lead thanks to a Michael Turner touchdown and a Matt Bryant field goal.

The Cowboys came to life thanks to a quick drive that lasted just 2:28. Tony Romo hit Kevin Ogletree on a 21-yard touchdown to pull the Cowboys to within a field goal. However, the defense could not hold the Falcons when it mattered most.

The Cowboys didn’t turn the ball over, marking the first time that has happened all season. However, the Cowboys did not force a turnover, so Dallas still has a turnover ratio of  minus-11.

Dallas also only had 7 penalties for 50 yards. However, Atlanta had only 2 for 15 yards, and the Cowboys’ penalties came at the worst times.

This felt like a solid defensive effort, but the Cowboys gave up some yardage. Turner had more than 100 yards on the ground, while both Julio Jones and Roddy White had more than 100 receiving yards each.

The Cowboys are still a half-game from the division cellar thanks to the Redskins’ loss to the Panthers on Sunday. If the Eagles lose to the Saints on Monday, the Cowboys will be tied with Philadelphia entering into next week’s matchup at Lincoln Financial Field.

 

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Few Give Dallas a Chance to Beat Atlanta

 

The Cowboys struggled to win in nearly every simulation.

Jerry Jones and Rob Ryan think the Cowboys will find a way to play a perfect game and end Atlanta’s unbeaten streak. Some fans think the same thing.

Not many others agree. Every simulation has the Falcons coming away with a win, with most predicting that both teams will score more than 20 but less than 30 points.

Here’s a list:

What If Sports: Atlanta 27, Dallas 20

AccuScore: Atlanta 28, Dallas 24

Number Fire: Atlanta 25, Dallas 22

TeamRankings: Atlanta 25, Dallas 23

Madden (via ESPN): Atlanta 31, Dallas 21

 

Among ESPN commentators, only Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski predicted a Dallas win. Even fewer in Dallas think the Cowboys will win as seven of eight reporters with the Dallas Morning News picked Atlanta to win.

 

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Romo Has a Record-Breaking Day, but Not in a Good Way

No Tebowing in Dallas, but if there were Romoing, it would look something like this.

Tony Romo set a record for passing attempts on Sunday against the Giants and came close to setting a few more. However, nobody will want to remember these numbers. The stat line was as follows:

  • 62 attempts (team record)
  • 36 completions (2nd highest total in team history)
  • 437 yards (3rd highest total in team history)
  • 4 interceptions (tied for the second highest total in team history)
  • 22,907 career yards (now the second highest total in team history, surpassing Roger Staubach)

It stands to reason that the Cowboys have not fared well when quarterbacks have thrown multiple interceptions. However, in the history of the Cowboys, days with big passing yards have also been bad.  Consider these statistics:

Attempts

Only three Dallas quarterbacks have had at least 50 passing attempts in a game. This includes Romo, Troy Aikman, and Vinny Testaverde. The Cowboys’ record in those games: 1-7. Here’s a look:

Passing
Rk Player Age Date Opp Result Att ?
1 Tony Romo 32-190 2012-10-28 NYG L 24-29 62
2 Troy Aikman* 32-005 1998-11-26 MIN L 36-46 57
3 Tony Romo 29-229 2009-12-06 NYG L 24-31 55
4 Troy Aikman* 31-023 1997-12-14 CIN L 24-31 53
5 Troy Aikman* 30-318 1997-10-05 NYG L 17-20 52
6 Tony Romo 30-151 2010-09-19 CHI L 20-27 51
7 Tony Romo 27-170 2007-10-08 BUF W 25-24 50
8 Vinny Testaverde 40-304 2004-09-12 MIN L 17-35 50
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/29/2012.

Completions

Romo is the only Cowboys quarterback with at least 36 completions in a single game. He holds the team record with 41, set in 2009 against the Giants. The result in both games? Losses, of course.

This is the fifth time that Romo has completed at least 34 passes. His record in those games is 1-4. Aikman completed 34 passes twice and lost both games. Jon Kitna completed 34 passes in 2010, and the Cowboys lost.

Yardage

Romo, Aikman, and Don Meredith are each on the list of QBs with 400 yards passing in a game. Their combined record: 1-4.

Passing
Rk Player Age Date Tm Opp Result Yds ?
1 Don Meredith 25-214 1963-11-10 DAL SFO L 24-31 460
2 Troy Aikman* 32-005 1998-11-26 DAL MIN L 36-46 455
3 Tony Romo 32-190 2012-10-28 DAL NYG L 24-29 437
4 Tony Romo 30-172 2010-10-10 DAL TEN L 27-34 406
5 Don Meredith 28-217 1966-11-13 DAL WAS W 31-30 406
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/29/2012.

Interceptions

Not surprisingly, the Cowboys have a terrible record when QBs have thrown at least four interceptions. Romo has now done it three times and has a 1-2 record in those games.  The Cowboys’ historic record when QBs have thrown at least four picks is 5-19.

Danny White had the most games with at least four picks with six. Strangely, though, he had a 4-2 career record in those six games.

Staubach’s Numbers

No surprise that Romo surpassed Staubach in passing yardage.

The comparisons end there. Period.

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N.Y. Giants 29, Dallas 24: The Middle-Finger Game

Dez Bryant’s middle finger helped cost the Cowboys a win over the Giants on Sunday. There were plenty of middle fingers to go around.

Cowboys’ fans are not likely to remember today’s game against the Giants very fondly. Sure, Dallas overcame a 23-point deficit to take a lead in the second half, but this is the modern-era Cowboys, who find ways to make the dumbest mistakes at exactly the wrong times.

But if Dallas (or New York fans, for that matter) want to remember this game, we might call it the Middle-Finger Game.

Of course, this refers more directly to Dez Bryant‘s middle finger. With the Cowboys trailing 29-24 with about 10 seconds remaining in the game, Bryant caught what was first called a touchdown that would have almost certainly have given Dallas the win. Instead, replays showed that Bryant’s finger(s) landed on the back line, thus negating the touchdown.

Tony Romo had two more chances. On the final play with time expired, Romo threw the ball 10 yards out of the back of the end zone.

That was one of many instances to direct a middle finger at Romo, who was awful for much of the game. True, he threw for 432 yards by completing 36 of 62 passes. However, his four interceptions helped the Cowboys to commit a season-high six turnovers.

The last interception came at the end of yet another bone-headed drive with time running out. Two weeks after the team blew a chance to upset the Ravens thanks to mind-boggling decision-making, the Cowboys did it again.

With 1:27 remaining and the score 29-24, Dallas had moved the ball to the New York 28. Romo hit Jason Witten for nine yards.

One play later, the Cowboys ran another play to Witten, who dropped the ball on an out pattern near the sideline.

3rd-and-1. That’s one yard to gain a first down with 1:23 remaining. Most teams would make sure to pick up a first down.

Not Dallas. The Cowboys decided to go for the end zone, with Romo throwing to Kevin Ogletree on a fade route. This is the same Kevin Ogletree who had not caught a single pass all day. He didn’t catch the fade pass.

4th-and-1. Dallas lined up in the shotgun, and Romo looked as if he was going to Witten. However, the Giants double-teamed the tight end, and Romo had no second option. He pathetic pass was picked off by Stevie Brown.

Dallas got the ball back, but the final drive failed after the referees negated Bryant’s apparent touchdown.

There were many middle fingers to go around in the first half.

Romo threw interceptions to end the first two offensive drives. Bryant did his part in the debacle by fumbling a punt after trying to catch it over his shoulder.

With 13:14 remaining in the second quarter, Romo dug a hole as deep as he could when he threw his third pick. Jason Pierre-Paul picked off a screen pass and ran it in for a touchdown from 28 yards out. The Giants led 23-0 at that point.

The Cowboys actually looked good for the rest of the first half and for much of the third quarter.  Dallas cut the lead to 23-10 at the half and then to 23-17 in the third quarter. Romo’s touchdown pass to John Phillips with 3:50 left in the third quarter gave the Cowboys their first lead of the game.

The defense appeared to do its part when Danny McCray grabbed an interception after the ball fell out of the hands of Victor Cruz. Dallas had all the momentum at that point, but a sack by former Cowboy Chris Canty helped to kill the momentum.

Dallas punted, and the Giants drove for a go-ahead field goal. On the ensuing drive, Felix Jones fumbled, setting up another Giant field goal.

From there, the Cowboys bumbled their way to yet another loss.

* * *

The online simulators rarely predict a score as accurately as the five simulators did for this game. Here were the predicted scores from my post the other day:

What If Sports: N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 23

AccuScore: N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 25

NumberFire: N.Y. Giants 25, Dallas 24

Team Rankings: N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 23

Madden (ESPN): N.Y. Giants 29, Dallas 24

 

The Madden simulation not only predicted the score but also predicted that the Giants would lose a lead only to regain it late in the game.

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Giants Have Slight Edge in Every Simulation

Miles Austin caught a touchdown in the Madden simulation of Sunday’s game, but Dallas still fell to the Giants.

There should not be any question that Jerry Jones is a Sean Lee fan. Jerry was not willing to consider this team as anything less than a Super Bowl contender until the Cowboys lost Lee for the season. Jerry now says the team is “going to have to adjust for him” and that he may have lower expectations.

Even with the injuries, most simulations have the Cowboys giving the Giants quite a game. However, none of the simulations predict a Dallas win. Here’s a summary:

What If Sports: N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 23

AccuScore: N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 25

NumberFire: N.Y. Giants 25, Dallas 24

Team Rankings: N.Y. Giants 26, Dallas 23

Madden (ESPN): N.Y. Giants 29, Dallas 24

* * *

Very few commentators think the Cowboys will win. Of 12 commentators on ESPN, 10 think the Giants will win. One of the two who think the Cowboys will manage an upset was Nate Newton. Michael Irvin also predicted a Dallas win on the NFL Network’s pregame show.

* * *

Tony Romo’s name showed up on a poll of NFL players about the league’s most overrated player. Romo was tied for second by receiving 8 percent of the votes.

The leader was Tim Tebow, who received 34 percent of the votes. Michael Vick and Ray Lewis also received votes.

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Dallas 19, Carolina 14: Not a Feel-Good Win

Anthony Spencer and the Dallas defense mostly contained Cam Newton throughout the day.

Jerry Jones called the Cowboys’ 19-14 win over Carolina “beautiful.”

And there were, to be sure, some stats that looked better to Dallas fans than some in previous weeks—Carolina had more turnovers, more penalties, and fewer points than the visiting Cowboys.

But there were the negatives, leading at least one person to call the win “f’ugly.” (My 12-year-old can figure that one out later.)

Ugly, as in a 14-13 fourth-quarter deficit to a team that entered the game with a 1-4 record. Ugly, as in a team that needed a few lucky breaks at the end to propel the Cowboys to the win over the previously 1-4 team.

Some expected the Dallas offense to have a great game on the ground and also to take advantage of a weak Carolina secondary. Miles Austin had a decent game (5 rec., 97 yards, 1 TD), but few other Cowboys stood out.  Dez Bryant only managed 2 receptions for 14 yards. Felix Jones could not match his totals from last week’s game against Baltimore, gaining just 44 yards on 15 carries.

On a more positive note, a member of the Dallas secondary finally recorded an interception when Morris Claiborne picked off a Cam Newton pass in the end zone, ending a Carolina drive.  Except for a couple of drives in the second quarter, the Cowboys managed to contain Newton.

The Cowboys held 3-0 lead when Claiborne intercepted the pass. Dallas moved into Carolina territory, but when Miles Austin caught a pass over the middle, he couldn’t keep his hold on the ball, fumbling it back to the Panthers.

Ten plays later, and Carolina led 7-3 thanks to a touchdown pass from Newton to Brandon LaFell. The Dallas pick was important, but the fumble was more costly.

Fortunately, Austin made amends in the third quarter. He caught consecutive passes of 36 and 26 yards, respectively. The second was in the end zone, giving Dallas a touchdown and a 10-7 lead. Dallas later extended the lead to 13-7 on a Dan Bailey field goal.

Carolina started a drive early in the fourth quarter and benefited from a personal-foul call on Jay Ratliff along with a defensive holding penalty on Brandon Carr. A Mike Tolbert touchdown gave the Panthers a 14-13 lead with 11:38 remaining.

The teams exchanged possessions before the Cowboys managed a drive for the go-ahead field goal. One controversial call was on a 3rd-and-9 play from the Carolina 15 when Jason Garrett called a simple draw that wasn’t about to get a first down. Nevertheless, Bailey was good on a 28-yard field goal to give Dallas a lead.

On the next drive, Carolina moved to its own 40 but faced a fourth-and-1. Dallas was caught with the wrong personnel, and it appeared that Dallas was going to be called for too many man on the field. However, the Cowboys managed to call a time out.

On the fourth-down play, Newton’s pass to Louis Murphy was incomplete, and it looked as if Claiborne got away with interference. Nevertheless, Dallas took over at the Carolina 40.

More luck on the next drive when referees called James Anderson was called for a horse collar, even though replays showed the Anderson did not have his hands inside Philip Tanner’s shoulder pads.

Bailey’s fourth field goal of the game gave Dallas a 19-14 lead. Newton could not lead Carolina on a miracle comeback, so Dallas picked up its third win of the season.

The Cowboys are now tied with the Eagles with a 3-3 record, while Washington falls into last place with a 3-4 record. Dallas hosts the Giants next week.

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