Redskins rally, but fall on late field goal in Dallas

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ARLINGTON, Texas | With his team up by 20 points in the third quarter and Rex Grossman doing a lousy job as Washington’s new starting quarterback, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones let out a sigh of relief. He figured the game was “tucked away … a cakewalk.”

Apparently, he forgot how lousy his defense is.

Grossman and the Redskins rallied to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, leaving Jones gasping for air. Then, David Buehler put Dallas back ahead with a 39-yard field goal with 50 seconds left and the defense finally came through with a crucial stop, pulling out a 33-30 victory Sunday.

“I’d take an ugly win over a hard-fought loss any day,” said cornerback Terence Newman, whose interception and weaving return drained the clock at game’s end.

Dallas led 13-0 before Grossman had crossed midfield. Washington coach Mike Shanahan’s benching of Donovan McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that stretched their lead to 27-7.

They could’ve been up even more, but had only field goals to show for drives that reached the 20 and 2, and didn’t have anything to show for drives that reached the 1 and 18.

Still, the way the game was going, what could go wrong?

Well, Shanahan figured out a few things, and so did Grossman. He led the Redskins to touchdowns on three straight drives over the third and fourth quarters, getting 2-point conversions on the last two. Mike Sellers danced with joy after catching a lob that tied the game at 30 with 7:37 left.

Santana Moss caught two of Grossman’s touchdown throws and might’ve had a third in the closing minutes. The cornerback covering him fell and there was only a safety to beat when a ball hit Moss in stride around midfield — but he dropped it. The Redskins punted and the Cowboys answered with the winning drive.

It went only 31 yards over seven plays, but drained plenty of time and set up Buehler’s final kick. It made up for a missed 35-yarder and provided a bit of revenge for a loss to Washington in the opener that sent the Cowboys’ season spiraling down the drain.

“I’m just happy I got that opportunity,” said Buehler, who’s had the winning kick in Dallas’ last two victories.

The Cowboys improved to 4-2 under interim coach Jason Garrett, guaranteeing no worse than a break-even finish for his tenure. They also have a chance to avoid finishing last in the NFC East. Dallas and Washington are both 5-8 and tied for third.

Garrett might even have Tony Romo back from a broken collarbone for the final two games. He could be cleared to return Christmas night in Arizona, although Jones wasn’t optimistic after seeing him throw before this game.

“Frankly, he’s still having sensitivity there,” Jones said. “We’re a little behind where I thought we would be on how healthy he is. … He’s not ready to play. That doesn’t mean he might not get out there, throw and practice, but he’s not ready.”

Fill-in quarterback Jon Kitna was 25 of 37 for 305 yards with two touchdowns, so he’s obviously not holding Dallas back.

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