It has been said to never under-estimate the power of emotion in rivalry games. If you have any doubts about that statement, you didn’t watch the Dallas Cowboys narrowly defeat the Washington Redskins in overtime this Sunday, 27-24. It was emotion that carried the game into an extra period, and ultimately to the third straight victory for the Cowboys.
The pre-game hype about this game was the tale of two different teams on two very different paths. The 5-3 Cowboys seemed to have found their rhythm as of late beating the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills respectively. The Washington Redskins were on a five game losing streak and recently made a quarterback change to try to stir things up a bit. Dallas defeated Washington in their previous meeting in Week Two of this season, 18 to 16, solely off the leg of rookie kicker Dan Bailey. It would turn out to be that very same leg that would lead them to a win on Sunday.
On Washington’s third play of it’s first drive, TE Fred Davis fumbled the ball. The fumble was forced and recovered by Cowboys’ safety Gerald Sensabaugh. That turnover led to a 22 yard touchdown reception from QB Tony Romo to WR Dez Bryant. Bailey added a 37 yard field goal in the second quarter to extend that lead, 10-0.
But QB Rex Grossman would bring the Redskins roaring back before halftime. The former Bear ran in a short 4 yard touchdown and found WR Jabar Gaffney for a 16 yard touchdown pass in the final four minutes of the first half. Going into halftime, Washington lead 14 to 10.
A Graham Gano field goal in the third quarter extended the lead, 17-14. But Dallas would make a comeback of their own early in the fourth quarter. Romo would find WR Laurent Robinson for a seven yard touchdown pass. Then he found TE Jason Witten for a 59 yard touchdown pass, giving the Cowboys the lead once again, 24-17.
The game was all but over when Grossman found WR Donte Stallworth for a 4 yard touchdown pass that tied the game and sent it into overtime. In the extra period, Gano would barely miss a 52 yard field goal leaving the door wide-open for Dallas. But it would take a Romo to Bryant 26 yard pass completion to convert a big third-and-15 play to set the winning field goal. Bailey, just like in Week Two of the season, sealed the victory with a 39 yard kick.
Romo went 23 of 37, for 292 passing yards and three touchdowns. Grossman had a similar day going 25 of 38, for 289 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one rushing score.
Rookie running back DeMarco Murray had 73 yards on the ground and 32 yards in the air. He lead the team with six receptions. Gaffney led the Redskins in receiving with seven catches for 115 yards and a score.
On defense, LB Demarcus Ware recorded his 14th sack of the year. And CB Orlando Scandrick had a key interception. LB Sean Lee led the team with 10 tackles.
Dallas moves to 6-4 in the NFC East, just one game behind the division leading New York Giants. Washington extends their losing streak to six games and sits at the bottom of the division at 3-7. The Cowboys will face the suddenly surging Miami Dolphins next on Thanksgiving.