With one foot in the grave, the Dallas Cowboys not only climbed out of a death-trap deficit tonight in Washington but also resurrected their season.
Admit it, with Tony Romo short-arming wobblers and Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense surrendering a touchdown on the Redskins’ opening drive you were beginning to kick dirt on Dallas’ coffin. Give them credit, the Cowboys did not want to die.
After the opening possession, Phillips’ defense didn’t allow another scoring drive the entire game (a long kickoff return led to Washington’s other three points). Romo, rust and bandaged pinkie and all, made enough good throws to help Dallas to by far its biggest win of the season. Martellus Bennett – that’s right, Martellus Bennett – came out of nowhere to make the game-winning touchdown catch.
And Marion Barber produced a fourth quarter worthy of the highest-paid running back in Cowboys’ history.
After Terence Newman – see, I toldja -- knocked down a fourth-down pass, Romo pitched the keys to Barber. On 11 consecutive plays Barber got the ball, including a 10-yard catch on third-and-8 and the clincher, a three-yard scamper around right end on fourth-and-1 from Washington’s 17 with 1:08 remaining.
It wasn’t pretty. But it was gutsy. And it was necessary.
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Lots of positive signs: Romo had his smile back. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was at his creative best getting the ball to Terrell Owens. The defensive line dominated. Newman looked like a shut-down corner. When push came to shove in the fourth quarter, Barber and the offensive line ground down the game’s final 6:40.
“This was very, very important,” Romo said after the game. “This was to see what direction we were going to go the rest of the season. We’re resilient. We kept grinding. Our goal here is to finish.”
The Cowboys now face very winnable home games against San Francisco and Seattle. They should be 8-4 heading into December.
After flirting with extinction, they live on.. – Richie Whitt.