ARLINGTON, Texas — It didn't matter whether Tim Hightower, Roy Helu or even Chris Cooley carried the ball for the Washington Redskins on Monday night, they couldn't consistently move it.
Those three averaged only 2.8 yards on 21 carries in an 18-16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The running game struggled so badly that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan attempted only seven running plays in the second half despite leading for more than 17 minutes of it.
"I don't think we really ever got into a rhythm, established anything offensively," Hightower said. "Defensively they did a great job."
Hightower had 41 yards on 14 carries. Helu, who had 74 yards off the bench against Arizona in Week 2, finished with 15 yards on five carries.
Cooley, a tight end, played a significant amount at fullback. He mostly blocked from there, but he carried twice for 3 yards.
The Cowboys finished the game ranked second in the NFL against the run, proof of how good their front 7 is at stopping it. Still, the Redskins looked inward for reasons why they languished a week after rushing for 172 yards against Arizona.
"I think everyone kind of took their turn," Hightower said. "I slipped a couple times in there. Roy slipped a couple times. I don't think we got 11 on the same page at all today. A lot of that is on the backs.
"We know the mistakes that we made. A lot of the mistakes that we made were self-imposed. That's something we've got to pay close attention to detail."
The Redskins did run relatively well on their only touchdown drive. Hightower averaged 4.0 yards on five carries. That was effective enough to free him on a play-action pass for a 1-yard touchdown catch.
"That one drive, I thought that was going to give us some momentum ... but we didn't sustain it," he said.
Grossman commits two turnovers
Quarterback Rex Grossman threw his third interception of the season. Dallas linebacker Sean Lee picked off a pass intended for tight end Fred Davis down the middle. Davis was surrounded by three defenders.
"I didn't see the [middle linebacker] dropping," Grossman said. "I saw Fred getting around the [weakside linebacker]. I was gonna bend it right behind [him]."
Grossman also lost a fumble on the Redskins' final play from scrimmage. Linebacker Anthony Spencer chased him down from behind, sacked him and forced the ball loose. Dallas recovered at Washington's 40-yard line and kneeled to run out the clock.
"They had pressure and made a play," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "Rex didn't see the guy coming from behind."
Rocca commits FG gaffe
Punter Sav Rocca took responsibility for the botched 36-yard field goal that cost the Redskins three points in the second quarter.
Nick Sundberg's snap was a bit high. Rocca raised slightly from his kneeling position to catch it, but he bobbled it. In a 2-point loss, the gaffe could be considered decisive.
"Regardless of where it was, it should have been caught," Rocca said. "I've caught those many times over before."
• Kevin Barnes helped fellow cornerback Josh Wilson recover a first-quarter fumble by batting the ball away from the sideline. Officials initially ruled that Dallas would retain possession because Barnes was touching the sideline when he dove and hit the ball toward Wilson, but the Redskins successfully challenged the call. Replays showed Barnes' foot was in the air over the sideline, not touching it.
Barnes, however, was disappointed he didn't make a bigger play.
"It should have been an easy scoop and score," he said. "The footing was bad for a lot of guys out there today. I tried to stay [in] bounds as long as possible. I didn't realize it was that close. I was basically floating."...
• Receiver Anthony Armstrong suffered a left hamstring injury and sat out most of the second half. Linebacker Brian Orakpo left the game in the fourth quarter with cramps and had to receive intravenous fluids.
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