Terrell Owens proved again yesterday that he's the king of bad karma.
The game's most infamous wideout finished his afternoon at FedEx Field with seven receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown. But it was what transpired after that scoring catch that seemed to turn fate against the visiting Cowboys.
Owens staked the Cowboys to a 19-12 lead when he darted inside Shawn Springs and collected a 4-yard slant strike from Tony Romo on Dallas' opening drive of the second half. Of course, six points on the scoreboard and the adulation of his teammates weren't enough for Owens, who proceeded to roll to the back of the end zone, curl into the fetal position and place the ball beneath his head like a pillow.
The officials completed the image by covering Owens with a blanket of yellow hankies. The call on Owens for taunting, a category in which he always leads the NFL, was just one of 11 penalties that cost the Cowboys an astounding 153 yards, making yesterday's flag frenzy the worst incurred by the franchise since a Nov. 2, 1970, loss at Washington (161 yards).
But more importantly, Owens' little celebratory nap routine seemed to irk the pigskin gods. And the Cowboys, perhaps sentenced to a fitting cosmic punishment, spent the remainder of the game sleepwalking through the action.
"[Coach Bill Parcells] said, 'We don't need that right now,' or something like that afterward," Owens said of the taunting penalty. "But that's what I do. I go out there and try to give my team a lift and some emotion and have fun with the game."
But there was no joy for America's Team after Owens' end zone routine.
Owens himself authored the first of a series of closing Dallas gaffes, dropping a perfectly thrown bomb from Romo with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter. Owens, who split cornerback Carlos Rogers and safety Troy Vincent on the play, would have cruised into the end zone to put Dallas ahead 26-12 if he made the kind of routine catch at least a quarter of the able-bodied spectators in attendance would expect to make.
"That pass I dropped would have changed momentum," said Owens, who also dropped a swing pass to start the fourth quarter. "That was a touchdown, and I'll think about it. I take that and put it on my shoulders. That's my fault. I owe this [game] to the team."
Actually, Owens was just the first of several lone-star culprits.
On the Redskins' following possession, Dallas safety Roy Williams intercepted Brandon Lloyd instead of the ball on a fly route down the right sideline. Washington's Antwaan Randle El clearly had overthrown the option pass, but Williams careened into Lloyd at the Dallas 20-yard line, gifting the Redskins' sluggish offense 48 yards. Two plays later, quarterback Mark Brunell and tight end Chris Cooley parlayed the error into a game-tying touchdown.
Dallas' next possession was doomed by center Andre Gurode, who decided not to block for Terry Glenn on a reverse, literally watching as oft-maligned defensive end Andre Carter swallowed Glenn for an 8-yard loss.
And then there was the game's bizarre closing sequence, which featured at least a trio of comical Cowboys miscues.
First there was tight end Anthony Fasano, falling over his own feet at midfield with nothing between him and the end zone but FedEx green. Then there was Fasano's opposite number, Jason Witten, who completely whiffed on Vincent during Mike Vanderjagt's 35-yard field goal attempt with six seconds remaining and the score tied 19-19.
"For a guy who's kicked thousands of balls in his life, I knew it was going in just by the way I hit it," Vanderjagt said after Vincent snuffed his chip shot. "When you hear 'thud-thud,' it's not a good deal. ... I don't know how [Vincent] got where he got, but he definitely shouldn't have been there."
Finally, there was Dallas guard Kyle Kosier, who grabbed the face mask of Sean Taylor after the Washington safety picked up the blocked field goal and zigzagged desperately toward midfield. The contact appeared incidental on replays, but Dallas was penalized 15 yards from the end of Taylor's return. And equally important, one untimed play was added to the game, giving Washington's Nick Novak the opportunity for redemption from 47 yards with no time on the clock. Novak, of course, was second-time golden, scoring one for good guys everywhere and sealing one of the most sour afternoons in Dallas history.
Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: "When you've got that much going for you and you [mess] it up like that, it's how you end up 4-4."