1:00 PM ET, December 22, 2013
FedEx Field, Landover, MD
Sunday Blitz: Cowboys-Redskins Recap
LANDOVER, Md. -- On fourth down, feeling the season was on the line, Tony Romo dropped back, scrambled forward and found the correct color uniform. DeMarco Murray made the catch, his momentum taking him into the end zone for the winning score.
For much of the second half, Romo and Dallas Cowboys had flirted with their usual December swoon.
A recently signed fullback lost a fumble. The quarterback threw a bad interception. An eight-point lead became a nine-point deficit. Murray lost 9 yards on a third-and-goal at the 1.
More Cowboys-Redskins coverage
Tony Romo answered the critics who blasted him all week for his play in a collapse against the Packers by coming up big when it mattered most, writes Todd Archer. Blog
There wasn't one simple thing to blame for this collapse. It was a combination of all the things the Redskins have been doing wrong all year in falling short against the Cowboys, writes John Keim. Blog
Tony Romo fought through pain and DeMarco Murray stepped up when the offense needed him as the Cowboys rallied to beat the Redskins, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor. Story
But there was one chance left to pull off a win. Romo-to-Murray converted the fourth-and-goal at the 10 with 1:08 remaining Sunday, giving the Cowboys a 24-23 victory over the Washington Redskins.
"We just had to make a play," Dallas receiver Dez Bryant said. "Tony did a Houdini."
It's a magic moment that matters only if the Cowboys can win one more. The victory ended a two-game skid -- as well as a four-game December losing streak -- and sets up a winner-take-all, regular-season finale for the NFC East title next week, when the Cowboys (8-7) host the Philadelphia Eagles.
"Today we felt like we were playing for everything," Romo said. "Next week will be the same thing."
The Cowboys, who beat Philadelphia 17-3 on Oct. 20, set themselves up to quash two years of 8-8, collapse-around-Christmas misery.
"I know in some ways we've gotten hit with just the fact of losing the last couple of years in the final game," Romo said. "I think we're the only team that keeps getting themselves in position to win the NFC East every year -- that's a credit. It's also a negative in the fact that we didn't do it the last couple of years."
The Cowboys melted down big-time last week against the Green Bay Packers, blowing a 23-point lead with Romo throwing two interceptions in the waning minutes.
On Sunday, the Cowboys fell flat in the third quarter instead of the fourth, leaving just enough time for a comeback.
"Coming back and playing well and working hard can help your character. Now, I don't recommend the way we came back today as a way to get there," Dallas owner Jerry Jones said with a smile. "I would've liked for it to be a little easier and confident."
Coming Through In The Clutch
Tony Romo has been heavily criticized throughout his career for crucial mistakes that have contributed to Dallas' late-season collapses. But since Romo became the Cowboys' starter in 2006, only Peyton Manning has more game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime.
Most Game-Winning Drives in 4th Quarter or Overtime Since 2006
|-- ESPN Stats & Information|
The Redskins (3-12) aren't building much of anything. They lost their seventh straight, the second in a row by one point, both with Kirk Cousins starting in place of shut-down franchise player Robert Griffin III.
Pierre Garcon (11 catches, 144 yards) provided the home team highlight by breaking Art Monk's single-season franchise reception record, while veteran linebacker London Fletcher played in what is expected to be his final home game before retiring. Embattled coach Mike Shanahan clinched his worst record in his 20 seasons as a head coach.
"Everybody on the team is fed up at this point," Washington linebacker Perry Riley said. "We should be winning. Need to be winning. We're not winning. And that's frustrating."
Romo completed 17 of 27 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and played much of the game with back pain. He was limping noticeably after a couple of plays in the fourth quarter.
"I took a hit that kind of triggered it a little bit. ... I felt it after that play, the rest of the game," Romo said. "You just play through it, just like anything in football."
The Cowboys led 14-6 at halftime before committing turnovers on back-to-back drives -- a fumble by Tyler Clutts and an interception by DeAngelo Hall. The Redskins scored on three straight possessions and took a 23-14 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But Romo converted a fourth-and-6 at the Washington 40-yard line to set up a field goal that cut the lead to six with 6:09 to play. The Cowboys started the go-ahead drive at their 13 with 3:39 remaining. A 51-yard pass to Terrance Williams set up the winning score, with the Cowboys surviving the 9-yard loss by Murray when knocking on the door at the 1.
"A couple of self-inflicted wounds in the second half hurt us," Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. "But you keep playing. Our guys scratched, clawed, and fought."
Michael Spurlock, signed Wednesday because of an injury to Dwayne Harris, set up a TD with a 62-yard punt return in the first quarter. ... Murray ran for 96 yards, becoming the first Cowboys back to rush for 1,000 yards since Julius Jones in 2006. ... The Cowboys are 5-0 in the NFC East; the Redskins are 0-5. ... Injuries: Cowboys RB Phillip Tanner (head) and Redskins LBs Brian Orakpo (right groin) and Nick Barnett (sprained left knee).
LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 22: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins warms up before the game against...(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
|Yards per play||5.9||4.6|
Yards per pass
Yards per rush
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||3-5||2-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||0|
|TD||12:55||Demarco Murray 3 Yard Run (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 3 yds, 0:11
|FG||4:22||Kai Forbath 36 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 19 yds, 3:53
|FG||7:40||Kai Forbath 22 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 10 plays, 75 yds, 7:15
|TD||4:46||Dez Bryant 14 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 93 yds, 2:59
|TD||9:14||Pierre Garcon 8 Yard Pass From Kirk Cousins (Kai Forbath Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 33 yds, 4:20
|TD||4:00||Alfred Morris 4 Yard Run (Kai Forbath Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 47 yds, 3:13
|FG||15:00||Kai Forbath 47 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 7 plays, 23 yds, 2:55
|FG||6:14||Dan Bailey 25 Yard Field Goal is Good|
Drive info: 15 plays, 73 yds, 8:47
|TD||1:16||Demarco Murray 10 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 87 yds, 2:31
Tony Romo's touchdown pass on 4th-and-goal increased the Cowboys' win probability by 42.5 percentage points, his biggest play in terms of increased win probability this season. Since 2001, teams were 8-of-44 (18.2%) converting 4th-and-goal plays needing at least 10 yards to score a touchdown. Romo's Total QBR was 99.3 in the 4th quarter Sunday. He finished at 79.4 for the game after starting the 4th quarter at 23.9.[+]
Tony Romo vs Redskins
The Cowboys ran on 14-of-33 plays in the second half (42 percent), despite trailing for more than half (17:33) of the last two quarters. Dallas ran on 7-of-30 plays (23 percent) in the second half despite holding a lead in last week's loss to the Packers.
Tony Romo threw both of his touchdowns (including the game-winner to DeMarco Murray) outside the pocket on Sunday. In two games against the Redskins this season, Romo has averaged 128.5 yards per game with no touchdowns and two interceptions inside the pocket. Against all other teams, Romo is averaging 248.8 yards per game with 26 touchdowns and seven interceptions inside the pocket.[+]
Tony Romo Inside/Outside the Pocket, Sunday vs Redskins
Pierre Garcon caught 11-of-17 targets for 144 yards and a touchdown Sunday, while Kirk Cousins was 10-of-19 for 53 yards and an interception targeting everyone else. Garcon's last catch was his 107th reception this season, breaking Art Monk's franchise record for catches by a Washington receiver.[+]
Kirk Cousins by Target, Sunday vs Cowboys
Tony Romo's 23 game-winnning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime tie Roger Staubach for most in Cowboys history (Staubach's 23 include 2 in playoffs)
ESPN Stats & Information