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A great escape

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 20, 2005

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.

Brunell's last two drives made up for a lackluster first 10 possessions that saw the Redskins cross midfield only twice and get no closer than the Dallas 27.

Finally, on the Redskins' 21st possession of the season, they scored a touchdown when Brunell found Moss to cut the lead to 13-7.

Dallas had seemingly put the game away the possession before on the second of two Jose Cortez field goals.

Leading 3-0 at halftime, Dallas used a trick play to extend the advantage. Jones took the handoff and pitched back to Bledsoe, who hit Glenn in stride for a 70-yard touchdown. Defender Shawn Springs and Taylor bit on the handoff and were unable to catch Glenn.

Last year at FedEx Field, Parcells helped seal a Dallas win when running back Richie Anderson threw a 26-yard pass to Glenn.

Cortez's second field goal, a 41-yarder with 5:58 remaining, made the lead 13-0.

The Redskins' first touchdown capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive and featured a 25-yard Brunell scramble and two fourth-down conversions.

Neither team did much on offense in the first half, combining for 11 first downs and six punts.

Dallas took the opening kickoff and drove 47 yards on 11 plays, but the drive stalled and Cortez's 41-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

The Redskins also drove into field goal range on their first drive, helped by a 18-yard pass from Brunell to James Thrash and a 5-yard Portis carry on third-and-1 from the Dallas 34. On the next play, Brunell waited too long to hit an open Moss in the end zone and Anthony Henry broke up the play. Two plays later from the 27, Brunell was sacked for a 12-yard loss, taking Washington out of field goal range.

Terence Newman intercepted Brunell on the final play of the first quarter and Cortez kicked a 31-yard field goal. The key play on the drive was Bledsoe's 16-yard pass to Keyshawn Johnson on third-and-11.

At the end of the first half, the Redskins got a break when Dallas was unable to cash in on Ladell Betts' fumble. Instead of taking a knee and running out the clock on third-and-16 from the Redskins 27, Gibbs ordered a Betts run. Williams forced the fumble at the Washington 36, but time ran out before Dallas could get into field goal range.