A great escape

IRVING, Texas — For three-and-a-half quarters, the Washington Redskins were a punting machine. Big gains on first down invariably would be followed by a penalty, bad throw or turnover and then an appearance by Andy Groom.

But down 13 points with less than five minutes remaining, Mark Brunell showed his 35-year-old left arm still has some life and Santana Moss showed why the Redskins traded for him last offseason.

In a span of 71 seconds, Brunell hit Moss for two long touchdown passes — 41 and 70 yards — to give the Redskins an improbable 14-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys last night at Texas Stadium.

“This is a great night — it’s hard to put into words,” Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. “Once you do [have this kind of win], everybody on the team starts to think, ‘If we just keep fighting out there. …’ ”

The Redskins defeated Dallas for only the second time in 16 games and they head into their bye week 2-0 and atop the NFC East with the New York Giants.

“Things basically weren’t going our way but we knew we wanted to finish strong and make some plays,” Moss said.

The first Brunell-to-Moss connection came with 3:46 remaining on fourth-and-15. After the Redskins’ defense held, Brunell connected with Moss for a second touchdown, hitting him in stride at the Dallas 25-yard line with 2:35 remaining.

“We’re very fortunate to have Santana,” Brunell said. “His speed speaks for itself.”

On both touchdowns, Moss outran Dallas defenders to catch Brunell’s throws.

“If he gets blocking, that man can do anything with his arm,” Moss said.

The Redskins’ needed two defensive stands to secure the victory.

Following the go-ahead touchdown, Dallas’ Tyson Thompson returned the kickoff 49 yards to the Washington 49. Two plays later, Drew Bledsoe found Patrick Crayton but the pass fell incomplete thanks to Sean Taylor’s monster hit. On fourth down, Bledsoe hit Terry Glenn but cornerback Walt Harris made a fine tackle to stop Glenn short of the first down marker.

The Redskins ran the clock down to 36 seconds before punting it back to Dallas. The Cowboys took over at their 21 and reached the 42 when time expired.

The Redskins won in Dallas for the first time since 1995 and on a night where the atmosphere was electric with the induction of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith into the Cowboys’ Ring of Fame.

Brunell finished 20 of 34 passing for 291 yards and Moss caught five passes for 159 yards.

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