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Redskins vs. Cowboys: Quarter-by-quarter breakdown, game’s key play

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First quarter

When you are a struggling team, a quick start can be pretty important. That's exactly what the Redskins didn't get. During their first drive, quarterback Rex Grossman found Fred Davis on third down. Stretching the ball in hopes of getting the first down, Davis instead lost the ball when it hit the knee of a Dallas defender. The Cowboys recovered. Three plays later, Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant with a 22-yard touchdown pass and the Redskins were in an early hole in their bid to stop a five-game losing streak. It was the fourth time this season Washington has turned the ball over on its first possession, a trend the Redskins were certainly hoping wouldn't continue. By the time the quarter ended, the Redskins could count just one touchdown in their previous 38 possessions. The Redskins finished the quarter with just one first down and only 14 yards. But they were only down seven.

Second quarter

The Redskins went into halftime with the — uh, what's that word again? Oh, yeah, the lead. After one of their best quarters of the season, the Redskins went up 14-10 at halftime. It marked the first time they'd led in a game in more than 329 football minutes. Or since Oct. 2, which was the date of their last victory. Grossman was easily the star of the quarter. Starting a drive on the Dallas 32 after a bad punt, Grossman hit David Anderson for 22 yards to set up a 4-yard scoring run by, yes indeed, Grossman. On the the next possession, Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney for a 16-yard score. The team that had scored just one touchdown during its previous three games now had touchdowns on two straight possessions, and the — what's that word again? — the lead. The Redskins' five first downs and 89 yards in the quarter seemed like a gold mine. The production was a good sign, but there was still a long way to go.

Third quarter

Could the Redskins, who had seemingly gone eons without any kind of scoring, be turning into a point-scoring machine? On the team's  first possession of the second half, Washington got in position for a 40-yard field goal from Graham Gano. It was the Redskins' third straight possession with points and it gave them a 17-10 lead. Then, on Dallas' first drive, London Fletcher sacked Tony Romo to force a punt and Brandon Banks returned that kick 55 yards to start Washington off in Cowboys' territory for the third time in four possessions. But the Redskins' run of points ended as Gano missed a field goal try from 49 yards. Would that totally kill Washington's momentum? The Redskins were still ahead by seven when the quarter ended, but Dallas tied things up with a 14-play drive that concluded when Romo hit Laurent Robinson for a touchdown just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Fourth quarter

Down seven, having thrown an interception earlier in the quarter, things certainly didn't look good for Grossman and the Redskins late in the final quarter. They were starting on their own 11, a very long way from the end zone. Earlier in the quarter, the Redskins' defense had allowed a 59-yard touchown pass from Romo to Jason Witten, who covered the last 30 on the ground. Grossman's pick came on the Skins' first play afterward. Hopeless? Not hardly, as it turned out. Washington responded with what was probably its best drive of the season, covering the 89 yards as Grossman completed eight of 10 passes. The final one went for four yards to Donte Stallworth, who deftly drug his right foot onto the grass for the touchdown that, after Gano's conversion kick, tied the score with 14 seconds left. Washington and Dallas were playing for the 102nd time and headed to overtime for the third time.

Key play/Overtime

Facing third-down-and-15 from Washington's 49 in overtime, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo rolled and found Dez Bryant for a 26-yard gain. It was the first reception for Bryant since the first quarter. Romo finished the game with 292 passing yards and those were a pretty crucial 26. Two plays after the completion, Dallas lined up for a 39-yard field goal try by rookie Dan Bailey. It was good and the Redskins, despite playing their best game in a while, saw their losing streak grow to six.

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