Cowboys topple Redskins

In a perfect world, owner Jerry Jones could forgo the pretence and simply hire interim boss Jason Garrett as the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Of course, that's not possible. Not yet, at least.

Jones has to abide by the league-wide order, known as the Rooney Rule, which requires all teams to interview at least one minority before making a hire.

The rule has its place — and there is no denying it has opened the door for some who deserved the opportunity but previously had not heard the phone ring.

But with two weeks to play, it has become clear that Garrett is going to be Jones' preferred choice. It's just a matter of time before he can tell the world as much.

And based on his performance as interim coach since taking over for the fired Wade Phillips, is there even an argument?

The latest example was Sunday's 33-30 victory against the Redskins.

It wasn't pretty — the Cowboys blew leads of 27-7 and 30-14, before winning with a 39-yard field goal from David Buehler.

Credit a Cowboys shaky defense, which keyed the early lead with a forced fumble on a sack and an interception and then allowed the Redskins to score 16 fourth-quarter points and tie game, for coming up with a key stop late.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick got to back-to-back sacks to set up good field position and Buehler's winning field goal.

Terence Newman had a late interception.

"The Redskins battled back," Garrett said. "They did a good job. "They cashed in some opportunities. We had our backs to the wall. We had to respond to it. Ultimately we were able to do that. We did close them out. I want a team that keeps battling and fighting. That is the most important thing. Our team has shown that."

A Cowboys team with literally nothing to play for after opening 1-7 under Phillips continues to respond to Garrett with four wins in their last six games.

At 5-9, the Cowboys are still guaranteed their first losing season since going 6-10 in 2004, but the dismay is now mixed with hope.

The Cowboys are still not without problems — they've battled a plethora of injuries and the defense has been an unmitigated disaster.

The Cowboys are playing with effort and passion, attributes that were absent during their early season struggles.

The fortitude to close out Sunday's near-implosion with a victory might just serve as another building block for Garrett.

"You are always trying to lay a foundation," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "Your ultimate goal of making the playoffs is out of question. You have to continue to play hard and build a foundation so we can be better next year. We are not going to tank this year and be set back for next year. Jason Garrett has been the leader of that and guys have followed that."

Said linebacker Bradie James: "Now it's just: you've got to go win. It's the end. The best thing is you're seeing the resolve and at the beginning of the season I can argue that everybody didn't see that. You still have to finish."

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