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A night of some perhaps.
It was perhaps a matter of time before the Tony Romo’s surgically repaired back would give out and cause him to miss playing time.
That occurred with just under eight minutes left in the third quarter of Monday night’s game against the Washington Redskins. Romo was in obvious pain and went to the locker room for most of the second half.
He returned, but he was unable to lead Dallas to an overtime win. Washington kicked a field goal and then stopped Dallas on its only overtime possession to pull out the 20-17 win. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 6-2.
Perhaps it was a matter of time before DeMarco Murray’s fumbles became especially costly.
He had a great catch-and-run early in the second quarter, but after gaining 36 yards inside the Washington 10, he fumbled for the fifth time this season. At the time, Dallas trailed 3-0 and looked like it would take the lead.
Although the Cowboys went into the half with a 7-3 lead, a touchdown after the Murray play could have allowed the Cowboys build a more sizable advantage before halftime.
Instead, the Cowboys four-point lead turned into a three-point deficit when Washington took the second-half kickoff and marched 80 yards for a go-ahead score.
Which leads us to the final perhaps—
Perhaps it was time that this no-name defense could not save the day.
With Romo heading to the locker room, the defense forced a three-and-out. However, after the Cowboys tied the game at 10 in the third quarter, the defense looked vulnerable.
DeSean Jackson burned the Dallas secondary for a 45-yard gain on the final play of the third quarter. It was his second gain of more than 40 yards during the game, and the second play set up a touchdown run by quarterback Colt McCoy.
Yes, that Colt McCoy. The former Texas Longhorn, Cleveland Brown, and Redskin third-stringer sliced up the Dallas defense for nearly 300 passing yards. Washington entered the game with one of the worst third-down percentages in the league. Against the Cowboys late in the game, however, the Redskins converted a number of key third downs.
Thanks to backup quarterback Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys stayed in the game in the fourth quarter. He led the Cowboys on two second-half scoring drives. Dallas forced a Washington punt at the two-minute warning with the game tied at 17.
A bonus perhaps—it was perhaps through the miracle of modern medicine that Tony Romo left the locker room and reentered the game to try to engineer a game-winning drive.
Whether Romo should have returned will be a point of debate all week. At that point, Weeden had led the Cowboys on two scoring drives. Romo was obviously not going to be mobile in his condition.
Facing heavy pressure with just over a minute to play, Romo fumbled the ball at the Dallas 5. Though Murray recovered and Dallas managed a first down to keep the drive alive, the Cowboys could not move the ball past their own 28. In fact, on 3rd and 1 from the 28, Romo was called for intentional grounding, forcing the Cowboys to punt.
The Redskins had little trouble moving the ball 58 yards in overtime to set up what would be the game-winning field goal.
Dallas could not manage a single first down on its drive, ending the game.
The Cowboys still lead the NFC East by a half-game, but a win would have given Dallas some breathing room. The Cowboys now have a short week before facing the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday afternoon.
This is the second part of a ten-part series focusing on ten pivotal regular season games in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
Not all famous games will appear on this list. For example, the Mad Bomber game from Thanksgiving Day in 1974 is a famous game, but it was hardly pivotal, given that the Cowboys missed the playoffs that year.
Instead, this series focuses on games that marked turning points—good and bad—in franchise history.
November 22, 1970:
“Road to the Super Bowl Begins in Washington”
By 1970, the Dallas Cowboys had become Next Year’s Champions. The team had highly successful regular seasons but faltered in the playoffs.
The 1970 season looked different, but not in a good way. The Cowboys started out with a 5-2 record before losing to the New York Giants on the road on November 8. One week later, the bottom fell out as the Cowboys lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, 38-0.
Nine weeks into the season, the Cowboys were 5-4. They trailed both the Cardinals and the Giants in the division and had already lost to the Cardinals twice.
It appeared that Dallas would miss the playoffs for the first time since 1965. This was hardly the best start to the first season after the NFL-AFL merger.
Fortunes changed on Sunday, November 22. Quarterback Craig Morton, who entered the game with a completion percentage of 41.5, hit on 12 of 15 pass attempts. His two touchdown passes in the second quarter helped the Cowboys build a 24-7 halftime lead en route to a 45-21 rout.
The Cardinals ended their game in a tie with Kansas City. St. Louis improved to 8-2-1 the following week but lost three straight to end the season at 8-5-1.
The Giants lost two of their last five to finish at 9-5.
Meanwhile, Dallas won its final five games of the regular season to win the division with a 10-4 record. The Cowboys then beat the Lions and 49ers in the NFC playoffs to reach the Super Bowl.
Of course, Dallas lost to the Colts in Super Bowl V, so this season did not have a happy ending. Nevertheless, the team had gone one step further than it ever had, setting the stage for their first championship season one year later.
The Dallas Cowboys have a new Demarcus on their defensive line.
Needing to upgrade the worst defense in the NFL last year, Dallas traded its second- and third-round picks this year to Washington to move up 13 spots in the second round to take Lawrence.
The video below provides a good review of Lawrence. Here are the pros and cons:
- Has not missed playing time in two years.
- Career at Boise State: 20 sacks, 7 forced fumbles
- Plays with leverage
- Is always around the ball
- Has natural pass-rush ability
- Served three one-game suspensions for off-the-field issues
- Can lose containment because he is overly aggressive
- Is somewhat small for a DE
Bottom Line (from NFL.com):
A loose, explosive, long-limbed athlete, Lawrence consistently pressurizes the edge and harasses quarterbacks. His pass-rushing ability rates among the best in this year’s class, and he holds mass appeal. Lacks ideal stoutness at the point of attack, but could thrive as a 4-3 right end or 3-4 rush linebacker, and should contribute readily on passing downs.
On Sunday night, the Cowboys and Redskins will face off in a season finale for the sixth time in history. Here is a review of the previous five games.
1979—Dallas 35, Washington 34
Many fans remember the first time the teams met to end a regular season. Dallas and Washington were both 10-5 when they faced off at Texas Stadium on December 16, 1979. The winner would win the NFC East, while a Dallas loss would have sent the Cowboys to the wildcard game one week later to play the Eagles.
Washington took a 34-21 lead in the fourth quarter and had the ball with about four minutes left.
Nothing looked good for the Cowboys until a series of plays that allowed Roger Staubach to pull off one last miracle.
- On a 3rd and 5 play with just under 4 minutes left, Clarence Harmon fumbled the ball, and Randy White recovered.
- Staubach went to work right after the fumble, hitting Butch Johnson, Tony Hill, and Ron Springs on consecutive passes. The 26-yard pass to Springs for a touchdown cut the Washington lead to 34-28.
- Washington faced a critical 3rd-and-2 with 2 minutes left. John Riggins tried to run outside, but Larry Cole burst through the hole and caught Riggins for a loss.
- The Cowboys got the ball back with 1:46 at their own 25. Hill came up with another huge reception, picking up 20 yards on the first play of the drive.
- On the next play, Staubach evaded the rush and hit Preston Pearson over the middle for another 23-yard gain.
- Pearson’s second reception of the drive moved the ball to the Washington 8, which set up Staubach’s game-winning pass to Hill.
Here’s a video worth watching:
1996—Washington 37, Dallas 10
The Cowboys had nothing to gain when they faced the Redskins in the season finale in 1996. This was the last game ever played at RFK Stadium, and the Cowboys barely showed up in a 37-10 loss.
1998—Dallas 23, Washington 7
Two years later, the Cowboys hosted Washington with a chance to sweep the entire division. Dallas beat the Redskins but then turned around and lost to division rival Arizona one week later.
2002—Washington 20, Dallas 14
There was nothing on the line when the teams faced off in 2002. The game proved to be Emmitt Smith’s last with Dallas. He entered the game needing 38 yards to reach 1,000 for the 12th consecutive year. He managed just 13 yards on 18 carries.
2007—Washington 27, Dallas 6
Many thought the Cowboys needed momentum heading into the 2007 playoffs. Instead, the Redskins thumped Dallas, and two weeks later, Dallas lost to the Giants in the playoffs.