ARLINGTON (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys went from nearly crushing the Washington Redskins to barely beating them.
After letting a 20-point lead dissolve into a tie game, David Buehler bailed out the Cowboys by making a 39-yard field goal with 50 seconds left and the defense managed to make it hold up for a 33-30 victory Sunday.
Dallas was in control from the start, leading 13-0 before Rex Grossman had even gotten Washington across midfield. Coach Mike Shanahan’s move to bench Donovan McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that stretched their lead to 27-7.
It could’ve been so much more, too. Dallas got only field goals out of drives that reached the 20, 2 and 3, and failed to score on drives that reached the 1 and 18.
Then Grossman started making Shanahan look really smart. He threw touchdowns on three straight drives over the third and fourth quarters, getting 2-point conversions on the last two. Mike Sellers danced with joy after catching the second one.
But the shaky Dallas offense came through when it counted, making enough plays to drain the clock and set up Buehler for the winner — making up for his missed 35-yarder earlier in the game, and providing a bit of revenge for a loss in the opener that sent the Cowboys’ season spiraling out of control.
By pulling it out, Dallas improved to 4-2 interim coach Jason Garrett, guaranteeing no worse than a break-even finish in his tenure. The Cowboys (5-8) and Redskins (5-8) are tied for third place in the NFC East.
Jon Kitna was 25 of 37 for 305 yards with two touchdowns in what could be his last start. Tony Romo could return from a broken collarbone on Christmas night in Arizona.
Jason Witten caught 10 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, and became only the fourth tight end with 600 career catches.
McNabb watched from the sideline in a black Redskins hat, often with his arms crossed or clasped behind his back, often standing alone, as Washington lost its fourth straight and sixth in the last seven.
Grossman was 25 of 43 for 322 yards, tying his career high with four touchdowns. He threw two interceptions, including the final play, and was sacked five times.
Dallas’ defense allowed at least 30 points for the fourth straight game, the worst streak since a five-in-a-row run while going 1-15 in 1989.
The Redskins lost linebacker Brian Orakpo (hamstring, groin), safety Reed Doughty (head), lineman Phillip Daniels (abdomen).
The Cowboys lost two players to concussions — safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who had an interception and a sack in the first quarter, and linebacker Sean Lee.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)