Dallas’ third win of the 2013 campaign was exemplar of “team win,” and a nice birthday present for owner Jerry Jones.
Runningback DeMarco Murray sprained his MCL very early in the second quarter, lost for the game. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware strained his quadricep midway through the second quarter and was also lost for the game. The Dallas Cowboys are 11-0 when DeMarco Murray gets 18+ carries. DeMarcus Ware has never missed a game in his eight-year career. How could this team possibly function without such impact players?
It began with 2:45 left in the first half. After the Redskins’ punted again due to an illegal motion, Dwayne Harris caught the punt and jukes and jived his way down the left sideline for a touchdown, his second in his career. To add insult to injury, Redskins special teams coordinator Keith Burns stood beyond the sideline demarcation and earned a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when a line judge ran into him tracking Harris’ scoring return.
On the Cowboys’ first drive of the second half, after the Redskins kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to 14-9, Dwayne Harris took the Kai Forbath out of the end zone 90 yards to set up shop at the Washington 15 yard line. Two plays later, Tony Romo tripped his way like Don Knots out of a Brian Orakpo sack to find Terrance Williams for a 15-yard touchdown. It was all thanks in large part to Dwayne Harris’ 90-yard punt return, which was in large part due to special teamer Cameron Lawrence, who was called up from the practice squad this week, laying a lick on Redskins rookie cornerback David Amerson and knocking him out cold. Harris dashed through the vacated hole.
This season and for the past eight years, when DeMarcus Ware leaves the field injured, the Cowboys pass rush is as existent as Miley Cyrus’ prudence. Tonight, Jason Hatcher sliced through the Redskins offensive line to pressure Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III and even get a sack. Selvie pressured Robert Griffin III. The maligned Kyle Wilber even strip-sacked Griffin III and recovered the loose ball at the Redskins 3 yard line to help the Cowboys pad their lead.
“The star of the defense is the defense,” Lee said.
“All three phases stepped up and helped contribute to the win,” Jason Garrett said in his postgame press conference.
Quarterback Tony Romo, who threw a game-losing interception in the last two minutes of last week’s contest, threw an interception tonight. But he also threw 18/30 for 170 yards and 1 touchdown. It wasn’t the shootout people were expecting, and the Cowboys offense wasn’t as explosive as people had seen last week.
“When you play each other for a long time, I think it’s easier for defenses to know what areas to attack,” Romo said.
For the Cowboys’ second straight game in a row, they began the game with the game’s first possession and took it for a touchdown. It was a 12-play drive that featured the balance necessary to move the football efficiently. In goal to go, the Cowboys capped off the drive with a 4-yard DeMarco Murray touchdown and strike first at 7-0.
On the Redskins’ immediate possession, they drove the ball quickly for a 20-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Dallas didn’t answer the field goal, but instead gave up an interception in the beginning of the second quarter as Tony Romo tried to hit wide receiver Cole Beasley on a slant. Redskins defensive back Josh Wilson tipped it in the air, and Romo’s nemesis, linebacker Rob Jackson, picked off the pass. Fortunately, for Dallas, the Redskins weren’t able to convert it into points.
The Cowboys and Redskins traded each a possession with no scoring and minimal yardage, and then Dwayne Harris returned a punt for an 86-yard touchdown, making him the third player in NFL history to have two returns of 85 or more yards. The Redskins added a field goal to go into halftime, where they would also get the ball to start the second half with a 14-6 deficit.
“The game was literally very few possession throughout the first half through the third quarter,” Romo said.
Again, the Redskins added another field goal to make it 14-9.
Dallas matched field goal for touchdown as Tony Romo hit Terrance Williams on a 15-yard touchdown, the rookie’s second of the season.
After again trading possessions, the Redskins’ second-year runningback Alfred Morris galloped for a 45-yard touchdown to make it 21-16 Cowboys.
Heading into the fourth quarter with virtually no defensive line depth whatsoever, the Cowboys defense held. Brandon Carr blanketed and shut down Pierre Garcon. Orlando Scandrick added an interception in the end zone as Santana Moss fell down on a route. The next two scoring possessions for the Cowboys were a field goal and a one-yard Joseph Randle touchdown to make it 31-16 Cowboys, a lead they would never relinquish.
“When you win, it’s much better. I think that’s all that matters,” Romo said.
The Cowboys had ugly stats. DeMarco had 7 carries for 29 yards and a touchdown. Rookie runningback Joseph Randle had 11 carries for 17 yards and also a touchdown.
The Cowboys’ leading receiver was Cole Beasley and his 4 catches for 44 yards. Bryant had 5 catches for 36 yards, and Terrance Williams only had 2 grabs for 27 yards, though one of those catches was for a 15-yard touchdown. Jason Witten caught 3 balls for 27 yards.
Jason Hatcher played with one arm, due to his stinger, yet still recorded 2 sacks, and Kyle Wilber recorded 1. Hatcher also had a forced fumble on Robert Griffin III. Barry Church led the team with eight tackles.
Perry Riley, Washington linebacker, recorded his team’s only sack on Tony Romo. London Fletcher led the team in tackles.
Kai Forbath had a missed kick, thus he went 3/4 on field goals on the night, while Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey went 1/1 on a 30-yard field goal.
Pierre Garcon led the Redskins with 6 catches for 69 yards. Alfred Morris rushed 16 times for 81 yards and a touchdown. Robert Griffin III threw 19/39 for 246 yards and an interception. He also rushed 9 times for 77 yards.
Dallas at 3-3 heads into Philadelphia next week to take on a 3-3 Eagles team for first place in the NFC East. The game is at 12:00 Central on FOX. With Murray’s status in doubt along with Ware’s, this team faces another challenge and needs to draw together to take the division’s top spot.
On the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network’s postage show, DallasCowboys.com’s Mickey Spagnola spoke with Stephen Jones, who refuted NBC Sports Michelle Tafoya’s report that, from Jerry Jones’ body language, defensive tackle Jay Ratliff had played his last down for the Dallas Cowboys. Jay Ratliff is eligible to come off of the pup list this week.