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Novak's second-chance FG caps Redskins' comeback

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) -- With six seconds on the clock, Bill
Parcells thought the game would come down to one final field goal
by Dallas Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt.

Five seconds later, he watched Washington Redskins kicker Nick
Novak hit a 47-yard field goal to defeat his Cowboys, 22-19 and end
a wild final few seconds between these NFC East rivals. The game
featured three field goal attempts -- two by the Redskins and one by
the Cowboys -- in the final 31 seconds.

"It's a tough pill to swallow," Parcells said. "It's one of
those games that could go either way."

Vanderjagt's chance to win it -- a 35-yarder with six seconds
left -- was blocked by Troy Vincent. The ball bounced around until
Sean Taylor picked it up and made a weaving, tackle-busting return
into Dallas territory as time expired. Dallas' Kyle Kosier was
called for a facemask penalty on the return, tacking on another 15
yards -- and meaning regulation would continue for one more play.

This allowed Joe Gibbs to watch his team go from blowing a
chance for a last-minute victory to preventing a last-minute loss
to pulling out a win with no time left on the clock.

"Gosh," the Hall of Fame coach said, "I don't know if I've
experienced anything like that."

Novak came through by sneaking the ball inside the right
upright. With his arms up, Novak ran about 50 yards back downfield,
and several of his teammates piled on top of him, led by Vincent.

A five-time Pro Bowl defensive back in his 15th year in the
league, Vincent was signed last month after the Buffalo Bills
released him from their injured reserve list. He'd never blocked a
kick in his career, he said, and wasn't even told until Saturday
night that he'd be on field-goal duty.

"A win is a win," Vincent said, "and it's good to get back in
the win column."

"It's a short walk from the outhouse to the penthouse," said
Novak, who had missed from 49 yards with 31 seconds left. "This is
what a kicker dreams about. There are ups and downs, and this was
the up."

Parcells wouldn't assess specific blame, saying he'd have to
review the game film first.

"Whatever it was," he said, "it was a bad mistake by somebody
on our team. It was a tough one, a very unusual end to a game."

The Redskins (3-5) snapped a three-game losing streak and
dropped Dallas (4-4) into a second-place tie in the NFC East with
idle Philadelphia.

In many ways, the Cowboys could only blame themselves, with all
kinds of miscues and, perhaps, errors in judgment: a safety on
their first offensive possession; a failed 2-point conversion early
in the second quarter ("I go by the chart," Parcells said); and
plenty more errors that wasted another fine performance by
quarterback Tony Romo in his second NFL start.

"When you've got that much going for you, and you screw it up
like that, it's how you end up 4-4," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
said.

There was, of course, the flubbed field goal by Vanderjagt, who
came in 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter this season. And that key
flag on Kosier, one of 11 times Dallas was penalized for 153 yards.
Without that penalty, the game would have gone to overtime.

"It's a heartbreaker," Parcells said, "and I really don't
have too much to say."

Another flag came on Terrell Owens for excessive celebration: He
pretended to take a nap by using the football as a pillow after his
4-yard touchdown catch from Romo put the Cowboys ahead 19-12 in the
third quarter.

Later in that quarter, a wide-open Owens dropped a long pass
when he was behind the defense and seemed certain to give Dallas a
two-touchdown lead.

"I owe this one to the team," Owens said. "I let the team
down. Honestly, I think it was a lack of concentration."

So when beleaguered Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell connected
with Chris Cooley on an 18-yard score on the third play of the
fourth quarter, the game was tied at 19.

The Redskins came off their bye week knowing they needed a
victory to make the rest of the season meaningful, and Gibbs vowed
to revamp the playbook. There was only one significant personnel
change, though: inserting Vincent as a starting safety in place of
free-agent disappointment Adam Archuleta.

Still, Romo went 24-for-36 for 284 yards and two touchdowns. He
repeatedly bought time by scrambling away from pressure and settled
down after a rough start: Dallas gained 4 yards on its first two
possessions, then totaled 235 with two TDs and two field goals on
its next four drives.

But given these teams are coached by men who've won a total of
five Super Bowls, there was an awful lot of sloppy or ineffective
play.

The Redskins failed to score on their opening possession,
despite starting seven plays inside the 5. Dallas' first possession
ended with a safety, when Lemar Marshall dragged down Julius Jones
in the end zone.

Washington's first possession of the second half began with a
holding penalty, 3-yard run, loss of 9 on DeMarcus Ware's sack, and
a gain of 8 on third-and-26. That was enough to draw boos.

By game's end, there was nothing but cheers.

As Novak walked off the field, his helmet aloft in his hand, he
was smiling, the kick he'd missed moments earlier a distant
memory.

Game notes
Parcells is 14-9 against Gibbs. ... Brunell was 14-for-23
for 192 yards and a TD, even though top target Santana Moss
(hamstring) missed the game. ... Redskins RB Clinton Portis carried
23 times for 84 yards, including a season-long 38-yard run for a
touchdown.