Sunday, December 30, 2012
Washington Redskins 28, Dallas Cowboys 18
Cowboys end their season with a whimper.
The Dallas Cowboys once again failed to seize a big game Sunday night at FedEx Field, losing 28-18 to the Washington Redskins in the final game of the NFL season. With a win, the Cowboys would have taken the NFC East divisional crown and forced their way into the postseason. Unfortunately, the Cowboys came up small with plenty of terribly-timed turnovers and a complete inability to tackle. Washington improved to 10-6 with their seventh straight win, and will face the Seattle Seahawks in the wild card game next weekend.
Dallas started the game promisingly, forcing Washington into a quick three-and-out on the first drive of the game, then returning the enusing punt 28 yards down to the Redskins 27 yard line. Unfortunately, three plays later Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw well past his receiver and into the waiting arms of the Redskins' Richard Crawford for the interception.
Washington drove down to the Dallas 19 on the next drive before missing a 37-yard field goal, giving the Cowboys the ball back on their own 27. Five plays later, Romo threw a long bomb in Redskins territory that was easily picked off by Josh Wilson for Romo's second interception on the night. Coming into this game, Romo had only thrown one interception in his previous four games, three of them wins.
After the next Redskins drive stalled, Dallas took over on its own 11 and managed their first turnover-free drive of the game, a 13 play, 89 yard drive that saw Romo go 4-for-4 for 57 yards, including the nine-yard strike to Jason Witten that made it 7-0 Cowboys with 7:59 left in the first half.
The Redskins responded with a touchdown drive of their own, going 68 yards in eight plays and culminating in rookie Alfred Morris' 17 yard touchdown run. Morris ran the ball four times for 45 yards on the drive, breezing past several ineffectual Cowboys tackling attempts.
Both teams traded punts until the middle of the third quarter, when the Redskins took over on their own 18. Morris sliced through the Cowboys defense with ease, running six times for 47 yards, before rookie quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III broke outside for a 10-yard touchdown run that made it 14-7 Washington with 3:10 left in the third.
Dallas responded with a 48-yard field goal to make it 14-10, but the Redskins took the very next drive to dice up the soft Cowboys defense for another long drive, this one capped by Morris running right over several Dallas defenders en route to a 32-yard touchdown run.
Down by 11 points, Dallas still had plenty of time for a season-saving comeback when Dwayne Harris returned a Redskins punt 39 yards before he was dragged down by his facemask. The 15 yard personal foul penalty gave Dallas the ball at the Washington 16, and three plays later Romo hit Kevin Ogletree for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Harris then made an excellent catch on the two-point conversion to make it 21-18 Redskins with 5:50 to play.
The Dallas defense finally stopped the Redskins on the next drive, and Romo took over on his own 15 with 3:33 remaining, needing just a field goal to tie it. Things looked promising when he hit Witten over the middle for 14 yards on the first play of the drive, but on the second Romo was rushed and threw a slow, arching floater to the sideline that was intercepted by linebacker Rob Jackson at the Dallas 25.
There was still hope, if the Cowboys defense could hold the Redskins to just a field goal, for Romo to mount an improbable comeback. Those hopes, however, were dashed twice on this drive. First, the defense forced Washington into a 3rd-and-7 right before the two-minute warning. Although Griffin threw incomplete, Cowboys lineman Jason Hatcher hit Griffin in the helmet after the play, resulting in an automatic first down. The Cowboys then had the Redskins in a 3rd-and-goal at the one yard line with 1:09 remaining, needing a stop. Morris, however, plowed ahead for his 200th yard of the game and another touchdown, sending the game to 28-18 and sealing the Cowboys' playoff hopes.
The Cowboys did get the ball back with a minute left, but decided to wind down the clock with three short passes, ending their season as quickly as possible.
Romo had a poor day, going 20-of-37 for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. The Dallas running game was effective but mostly ignored by likely ex-head coach Jason Garrett, as DeMarco Murray ran 17 times for 76 yards, mostly in the first half. Dez Bryant led all receivers with four catches for 71 yards.
Griffin had a quiet but effective day on the field, going 9-for-18 for 100 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions, while carrying the ball six times for 63 yards and a touchdown. Alfred Morris was the game's most dominant player, running 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns.