Cowboys Nab 19-16 Win In DC; 'Lucky' Or Good?

Desperate for their fourth win of the season to keep their tenuous playoff hopes alive, the right foot of Dan Bailey - and the work of special-teams pals Lucky and Chris -- saved the Cowboys season for now as they defeated Washington to go to 4-8 on the year and send the home team spiraling from the NFC East's top spot with a 5-7 mark.

Cowboys 19, Redskins 16

After not seeing a touchdown for the entire 58:34 of the game, Dallas and Washington traded touchdowns -- a six-yard rush from running back Darren McFadden and a 28-yard touchdown from receiver DeSean Jackson respectively -- to lie at 16-16 with 44 seconds left in the game. A brisk 46-yard kickoff return from undrafted rookie receiver Lucky Whitehead setup Dallas at their own 44-yard line with two timeouts. Backup quarterback Matt Cassel, who was 0-4 in his previous fill-ins for the injured Tony Romo, drove Dallas 20 yards to setup Bailey for a 54-yard field-goal attempt. The fifth-year veteran's kick just cleared the crossbar to give Dallas a 19-16 victory and their third division win of the year.

"I'm stunned we haven't been able to win more games without Tony,'' Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. But really, we should all be stunned they won this game that they won.


It wasn't an easy win. Dallas actually lost the turnover battle three to one with McFadden coughing up the ball twice and receiver Devin Street getting held up for a strip early in the fourth quarter. What was more abominable was Washington could only get three points out of Dallas' three turnovers. Meanwhile, Dallas was able to get seven off of their fumble recovery of Jackson's ill-advised, circumnavigating punt return with 1:47 to go in the game. ... so Bailey got the kick, Lucky got the returns and punter Chris Jones recovered that Jackson fumble.

Lucky ... and good.


Receiver Dez Bryant, who had a great week of practice, screamed and tiraded at Cassel, who went 16/29 for 222 yards, to give him the ball throughout the game. It wasn't until late in the third quarter that Cassel started to connect with Bryant, who finished with just three catches for 62 yards. In spite of the low stats, his presence was felt on the field as he helped draw two defensive fouls late in the game to keep drives alive.


Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins went 22/31 for 219 yards and a touchdown, but the Cowboys defense found ways to pressure him. Defensive DeMarcus Lawrence sacked the fourth-year signal caller twice, and linebacker Sean Lee dropped Cousins once as well. Lee was an unstoppable force Monday night, adding 13 tackles to his sack as well. Only a turnover would have given him a flawless game.


Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr held Washington receiver Pierre Garcon in check, limiting him to just five catches for 54 yards. Jackson finished the game with six catches for 80 yards and a touchdown as fourth-year cornerback Morris Claiborne made his first start coming back from a hamstring injury that sidelined him the past two weeks.


Tight end Jason Witten joined rare company in the Cowboys' win as he landed his 1,000th career catch with 8:39 to go in the second quarter. On second-and-6, the 13-year veteran caught a seven-yard pass to become just the second tight end in NFL history to log 1,000 career catches. Witten led all Cowboys receivers with five catches for 45 yards. Receiver Terrance Williams also caught two passes for 63 yards.


The Cowboys running game was ineffective for the second straight week. In addition to two lost fumbles, McFadden finished with 14 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Robert Turbin carried the ball six times for 12 yards, while Whitehead had two carries for 35 yards.

"I just have to protect the ball,'' McFadden said. "It’s nothing more to it. It’s just one of those deals where I have to protect the ball better."


Dallas managed to similarly limit Washington's rushing attack. Rookie Matt Jones had 18 carries for 49 yards, and Alfred Morris had six carries for 12 yards. That, and some uncharacteristic blitzhing, was big for Big D.




Dan Bailey hit a 38-yard field goal to put Dallas on top 3-0 with 6:31 to go in the first quarter.


Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins made a 44-yard field goal to end the second quarter and tie the game 3-3.


With 10:37 to go in the third quarter, Hopkins nailed a 36-yard field goal to give Washington a 6-3 lead.


Bailey responded on the next drive with a 34-yard field goal with 3:34 in the third quarter to knot the game at 6-6.


On Washington's first drive of the fourth quarter, Hopkins again made a field goal, this one of 46 yards, to give his team a 9-6 advantage with 14:15  to go.


After Street's fumble and Hopkins' failed 43-yard field goal try, Bailey hit a 20-yard field goal with 4:22 left in the fourth quarter to even the score 9-9.


McFadden scored on a six-yard touchdown rush to give Dallas a 16-9 lead after the extra point try with 1:19 to go in the game.


Jackson caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Cousins to tie the contest 16-16 after Hopkins' extra point with 44 seconds to go.


Bailey's 54-yard field goal was the game's last scoring play with nine seconds left.





* This was Cassel's first game-winning drive since Dec. 29, 2013 when he led Minnesota to a 14-13 win over Detroit.


* McFadden's two lost fumbles were his first lost fumbles since Oct. 26, 2014 when he was still an Oakland Raider playing against the Cleveland Browns.


* This marks the first Cowboys win without Romo since Jan. 2, 2011, which was also a division game: a 14-13 win in Philadelphia.


* Bailey now has 11 game-winning field goals for his career. 3/11 of those have come against Washington.


* Garrett is now 13-4 in divisional games on the road.


* Dallas won their first Dec. 7 contest since 1980 when they defeated the Oakland Raiders 19-13.


* This is the third game Dallas has won despite losing the turnover battle. The last time that happened was in 2008 and Romo started all three games.

*Jason Witten nabbed catch No. 1,000 here, making him one of just two tight ends with that many catches.

"He's a Hall-of-Famer,'' Dez said. "First ballot. We all know that. He deserves it. He's a beast. Hats off to him."

And hats off to the Cowboys, who won a game they seemingly had no business winning ... a game some Cowboys fans didn't even want them to win.

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