- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas — Colt McCoy grew up three hours west of Dallas in Tuscola, Texas, where he was a high school football prodigy before he morphed into a college football superstar. Though he watched old clips of legendary Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach with his father, he embraced a contemporary hero, hanging a poster of Troy Aikman on the wall in his childhood bedroom.

It was fitting, in a way, that the moments McCoy considered among his fondest as a professional football player took place in the vast expanse of his backyard. Underneath the gaze of several dozen close friends and family members, the lights of one of the largest stadiums in the world and the glare of a national television audience, McCoy donned not just his shoulder pads and helmet on Monday but a cape as well.

Making his first start in almost three years, the quarterback helped the Washington Redskins pull off one of the more improbable victories in recent franchise history, defeating the Dallas Cowboys, the team of his youth, in overtime, 20-17.

The victory not only snapped a five-game winning streak for Dallas, but marked the first time the Redskins had won consecutive games since the end of the 2012 season and also halted an eight-game skid against NFC East opponents.

Coach Jay Gruden turned to McCoy as the starter early last week, but Gruden, as if to remember the gamesmanship that comes between coaches in football, later qualified that the start would only occur if the injured Robert Griffin III was not ready to play.

McCoy, though, was. He completed 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards with one interception, including 17 for 19 for 187 yards after halftime and a perfect 5-for-5 for 49 yards in overtime.


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He also ran seven times for 16 yards, once on a zone-read keeper, and even had a 7-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on a draw play.

“The good thing about Colt is that he’s played a lot of football,” Gruden said. “He’s started some games in the NFL, but there’s a bit of the unknown here. It’s ‘Monday Night Football.’ He hadn’t played in a while. … He was a little nervous, a little hesitant to let some balls go, but he settled into it and did some really good things for us.”

McCoy wasn’t crisp early, completing passes despite missing receivers on plays that, at times, could have led to bigger gains. On an 18-yard completion to DeSean Jackson in the first quarter, he rolled out to his left and almost tucked the ball to run before hitting his receiver with a pass at his knees. Three plays later, he found tight end Jordan Reed in the left flat for a 3-yard gain, but had running back Roy Helu open in space on the right side of the field.

“I just tried to stay composed,” McCoy said. “I don’t know if it was nerves. I was just a little bit rusty. I missed a few things. I called a play wrong in the huddle one time. Just little things that come up when you haven’t played in a while.”

When McCoy started to hit his stride, so, too, did the offense. Down 7-3 at halftime, McCoy helped the Redskins march 80 yards over eight plays on the opening possession to set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Alfred Morris.

Washington went 85 yards in nine plays on a drive bridging the third and fourth quarters that ended in McCoy’s touchdown run. And when the Redskins got the ball back with 9:27 remaining and the score tied, McCoy ate the clock, helping the offense churn for a stretch of seven and a half minutes that included three conversions on third down — a problem area for the unit this season.

“That last drive, Colt made a great off-schedule play to Jordan, and Jordan made a great catch,” said tight end Logan Paulsen, referring to a 9-yard gain by Jordan Reed on third-and-8 when McCoy was forced out to his left. “Those aren’t actually built into the offense. Those guys were kind of playing backyard football.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to do stuff like that to make plays.”

Two misplays — a delay of game penalty and a 4-yard sack on third-and-10 — gave the Cowboys the ball back at their own 3-yard line with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

And though the Redskins had to settle for a 20-17 lead on a 40-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, McCoy orchestrated a nine-play, 58-yard drive in overtime to make that possible.

“The third-string quarterback — most of the time, those guys are over there chewing seeds, no awareness of all of what the game is going and how it’s going,” said left tackle Trent Williams.

McCoy knows he’s keeping the seat warm for Griffin, who could return to action as soon as Sunday at Minnesota. Yet it had been so long since the quarterback oversaw a game from start to finish, and on Monday, with Staubach in attendance, McCoy wanted to cherish every last minute of it.

“It just so happened that we came to play the Dallas Cowboys,” McCoy said. “I wouldn’t have written that script any different.”

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