Defensive end Greg Ellis figured one first down and the Cowboys would lose.
The Cowboys' defense, often a wreck of missed opportunities this season, had just been overwhelmed on Washington's 13-play, 80-yard, lead-stealing drive in the fourth quarter. Their track record for most of Sunday and this season pointed toward the Redskins converting a potential clinching first down.
But something changed with the Cowboys trailing 10-6. The Cowboys held Washington without a first down on back-to-back drives, twice giving the offense opportunities to rally. Vinny Testaverde finally took advantage, connecting with Patrick Crayton on a 39-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds remaining to give the Cowboys a 13-10 victory. The much-maligned defense had a respectable finish in the home finale.
"We knew we couldn't afford anything," Ellis said. "If they would have got a first down on either one of those series, I think we would have lost the game."
The Cowboys held the Redskins to 233 yards, the third-lowest total allowed by Dallas this season, and had just 84 yards rushing. Redskins tailback Clinton Portis gained 32 yards on 10 carries before leaving in the second half with a shoulder strain.
"It was tough to make yards on them," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "A play here and a play there will stop a drive. I feel like we had an excellent first drive. But then we had trouble moving the ball."
The Cowboys have allowed 13 fourth-quarter points combined in the last two weeks after giving up 14 to New Orleans.
"We did a good job on the running game today," Cowboys safety Roy Williams said. "We knuckled down and pulled our pants up and we got after it and went to work."
Washington was held to 9 yards on seven plays on its final three possessions before a 32-yard catch by Laveranues Coles set up Jeff Chandler's 57-yard field-goal attempt, which fell short as time expired.
The Cowboys defense was reeling as the Redskins took a 10-6 lead. It allowed Redskins backup running back Ladell Betts to rush for 30 yards and Ramsey to complete all seven passes in the scoring drive, which culminated with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Robert Royal with 6:44 left in the game.
But the Cowboys adjusted on the next drive.
"We came to the sideline and figured out what they were trying to do to us," Cowboys defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "We just figured we know how to stop it, so let's just go out and do it."
* DT La'Roi Glover had his second two-sack game in the last four weeks. "Sacks come in bunches," Glover said. "If you keep working, sacks will come." Glover has seven sacks, his highest total in Dallas since arriving in 2002. He had two sacks against Seattle and dropped Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey twice in the second half on Sunday. His previous best season sack total with the Cowboys was 6 1/2 in 2002.
* The Cowboys entered Sunday's game as one of the league's worst teams in interceptions with 10. But they had two in the first half Sunday, both in Dallas territory. Cornerback Terence Newman, with blanket coverage on Laveranues Coles, intercepted Patrick Ramsey at the Dallas 43 with 8:09 left in the first half. Newman leads the team with four interceptions and had four last season as a rookie. Safety Lynn Scott intercepted a Ramsey pass at the Dallas 3 on the game's opening drive, which lasted 14 plays. Scott recorded his first interception after the pass popped out of tight end Brian Kozlowski's hands.
* QB Vinny Testaverde stepped into forgettable Cowboys quarterback history. He suffered his 20th interception this season when Shawn Springs stepped in front of Keyshawn Johnson in the end zone in the third quarter. Since 1980, only Testaverde, Quincy Carter and Danny White have thrown 20 or more interceptions. White threw 25 interceptions in 1980 and 23 in 1983. Carter threw 21 passes that were picked last season. Testaverde has thrown 20 or more interceptions four times in his 18-year career.
* RB Eddie George was active for the first time in three weeks. Coach Bill Parcells said Sunday's game was the way he had planned to use his backs and George all season. After entering in the second quarter, George had three carries for 6 yards. It was his first carry since Thanksgiving Day against Chicago. Julius Jones had 22 carries for 57 yards, and Richie Anderson had two rushes for 12 yards. ReShard Lee was inactive.
* SS Keith Davis recorded his second forced fumble on special teams when he knocked the ball loose from Antonio Brown on a punt return late in the game. Davis has impressed the Cowboys as the second-leading tackler on special teams. But don't blame him if he's glad the season is winding down. He played in NFL Europe last spring after being re-signed by the Cowboys. He had four interceptions for league champion Berlin. "It's been a long year for me. I've been playing since February," he said. "It's been a constant grind. But I thank God I've got this opportunity to still come out here and play every day."
* WR Keyshawn Johnson extended his streak of games with a catch to 134.
* QB Vinny Testaverde's 39-yard touchdown to Patrick Crayton marked the 64th receiver to whom the quarterback has thrown a touchdown in his 18-year NFL career - an NFL record.
* FB Richie Anderson recorded his 400th career reception.
* OT Flozell Adams started his 100th consecutive game for the Cowboys, the longest active streak on the club.
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