Disaster strikes!

Dallas falls to Washington, 13-7, as two key mistakes at the end of the first and second halves prove too costly to overcome.

With the Dallas Cowboys trailing by six, staring at three seconds left on the clock at the Washington 13 yard line, it appeared the odds were stacked against them.

When the ball was snapped it appeared a quickly closing pocket wasn't going to make things any easier, either.

However, Tony Romo, just when it looked like he was going to hit the turf, regained his balance and broke free long enough to find a wide-open Roy Williams crossing the goal line for what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown.

It appeared to be a story book ending for a team hoping to begin a story book year.

It wasn't.

Right tackle Alex Barron was called for holding, negating the play and ending the game.

"I'd thought we won at the moment," said Romo. "I don't know, maybe 10, 15 yards after running away I noticed people not coming on the field."

Barron, who was starting because veteran Marc Colombo was out with a knee injury and has been the most penalized player in the league in the last five years, did not speak to reporters afterwards.

Still, that was one of two back-breaking plays Cowboys fans will be talking about for years to come in Sunday night's loss.

The other provided Washington's only touchdown of the game when CB DeAngelo Hall returned a Tashard Choice fumble 32 yards for a score on the final play of the first half.

The Cowboys appeared to be lining up for a Hail Mary attempt when the pocket collapsed and Romo pitched the ball directly to his right to Choice, who was then held up and stripped of the ball.

"If you catch the ball with 4 seconds left, you don't need to make an extra yard or two, you go down with the ball," Dallas head coach Wade Phillips said. "Maybe that's our fault, too."

Romo completed 31 of 41 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown on the night while Mile Austin had 10 catches for 146 yards and a score.

"It's hard to swallow," Romo said. "It's a tough one to take. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth for sure."

But it's the two plays that will forever be remembered by Cowboys from this one.

"I felt like we gave it away; the play before the half, certainly it was a big, big play in the ballgame," Phillips said. "I thought we played hard, but we made too many mistakes and that's what cost you. We only turned the ball over once, but it was a big one."

The win for Washington meant a successful debut for new head coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Donovan McNabb.

McNabb managed only 171 yards passing, connecting on 15 of 32 attempts.

NOTES: In his NFL debut, rookie wide out Dez Bryant caught eight passes for 56 yards. His eight receptions tied Bob Hayes (vs. Philadelphia – 10/10/65) and Jason Witten (vs. Miami – 11/27/03) for a single-game club rookie record. ... Marion Barber's 39 rushing yards tonight gave him 4,023 for his career and made him the sixth Dallas running back to reach 4,000 career yards.


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