The ‘Boys did just that, shining on offense, defense and special teams, and giving the 90,239 fans in attendance and team owner Jerry Jones a big 71st birthday present with a convincing 31-16 victory.
Dallas won the coin toss and elected to receive. Tony Romo and company marched methodically down the field and scored a TD on their first possession of the game to take an early 7-0 lead. The drive was 80 yards in 10 plays and took 6:08.
Washington and Robert Griffin III responded with a long drive of their own that culminated with a Kai Forbath 20-yard field goal that cut the Dallas lead to 7-3. The scoring drive was 78 yards in 13 plays and took 7:14 off the first quarter clock.
On their second possession, Josh Wilson intercepted a Tony Romo pass that ended a promising drive. The pick was the fifth of Wilson’s career. The Dallas defense rose to the occasion and forced a three-and-out. Sav Rocca’s punt hit B.W. Webb and the ball was recovered by Washington, but the ruling on the field was that Webb was pushed into the ball by a Redskins player, so Dallas got possession at their 24 with 9:16 left in the first half. They were unable to mount a drive and punted the ball away.
From that point on, neither team was able to sustain a drive until late in the half, but Dwayne Harris took a Rocca punt down the sideline into the end zone from 86 yards out with 2:26 left in the first half, and after Dan Bailey’s extra point, Dallas extended the lead to 14-3. To add insult to injury, a member of the Redskins bench contacted an official at the Washington 38 during the return, and a 15-yard penalty was assessed to the visitors on the kickoff, and Bailey kicked off from midfield.
Washington got the ball back at their 18 after the kick and mounted a drive that consumed the remainder of the half. They moved the ball down to the Dallas 14 and took their final time out with 1 second left in the half. Forbath notched a 32-yard field goal on the last play of the half, capping an11-play, 68-yard drive that took the remaining 2:26 of the second quarter, and the teams went to the locker room with Dallas leading 14-6.
The ‘Skins opened the second half with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that consumed 4:57 and resulted in a 33-yard Forbath field goal, cutting the Dallas lead to 14-9.
On the ensuing kickoff, Dwayne Harris made his second big play of the game, returning the ball out of his end zone down the sideline to the Washington 15, and the ‘Boys were in position to expand their 5-point lead.
On the second play of the possession, Tony Romo hit Terrence Williams from 15-yards out and after Bailey added the PAT, the Dallas lead expanded to 21-9 with 9:03 left in the 3rd quarter. The 2-play, 15-yard drive took 1:00.
Washington came back with 3:43 left in the third quarter with a 45-yard TD run by Alfred Morris, capping a 3-play, 71-yard drive that took only 37 seconds. The drive was aided by a 15-yard penalty against Bruce Carter when he threw an elbow at Griffin III after chasing him out of bounds. After Forbath hit the extra point, Washington trailed by only a 21-16 count.
After the Cowboys failed to sustain a drive in their next possession, the Redskins moved down the field, and Forbath attempted a 49-yard field goal. The attempt sailed wide to the left and Dallas took back over at their 39 with 14:42 left in the game.
Romo and the Cowboy offense get in a rhythm from that point, and they almost had a touchdown, but DeAngelo Hall broke up a pass intended for Miles Austin at the last minute in the end zone, and Dallas ended up settling for a 30-yard Dan Bailey field goal, moving the lead to 24-18 with 10:36 left in the game. The drive was 9 plays, 49 yards, and took 4:06.
The Dallas defense rose to the occasion on the next possession when Kyle Wilbur knocked the ball out of Griffin’s hand. He recovered the ball at the ‘Skin 3. Two plays later Joseph Randle ran into the end zone with 8:49 left in the game. After Bailey’s extra point, Dallas appeared to have the game in hand with a 31-16. The 2-play, 3-yard drive took only 47 seconds.
Washington tried to come back, but Orlando Scandrick intercepted Griffin in the Dallas end zone with 5:08 left in the game when his intended receiver tripped and fell down. The teams exchanged possessions from that point, but neither team lit up the scoreboard any further.
It was a very happy Coach Jason Garrett who addressed the media after the big win. “It was a great team win for our football team and each of our three phases showed up, and you know, the starting players showed up in this game. I thought (Dwayne) Harris did a great job. Brandon Carr did an outstanding job, Jason Hatcher played an outstanding game, but there were a lot of other guys playing who haven’t been around here real long. I think particularly on that defensive line—those guys just battled their asses off on that defensive line. (They’re) playing as well as they can and they really stepped it up and made an impact on this football team.”
Tony Romo was also proud to get the win, and had high praise for the efforts of Harris with his two big returns. “In a game like that, that can be the difference in the game. These games, you see it each week, they come down to a swing play here or there and Dwayne, you know, did a great job and almost allowed us to sit over there as an offensive unit and rack up all his yards as if we did it without too much work. It was a great job; great job by all our special teams all the way around.”
The Cowboys don’t get to enjoy the big win for long, as they meet another NFC East Divisional foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, on the road Sunday at noon Central Daylight Time. With both clubs sitting at 3-3 now, the winner of the contest will walk off the field alone atop the standings in the East with just one more game to go to get to the midway point of the 2013 season after the contest. IF Dallas can find a way to get the big road victory, they would go to a perfect 3-0 in their division, and could be on the verge of putting a very successful season together. HOPEFULLY, they can find a way to make that happen!