LANDOVER, MD (AP)– Tony Romo went this way and that way, scrambling to find Laurent Robinson for the game-tying touchdown and Jason Witten for the go-ahead score — both in the fourth quarter.
When that wasn’t enough, the Dallas quarterback used his feet again in overtime, buying enough time to spot Dez Bryant on a third-and-15. The 26-yard completion set up Dan Bailey’s winning field goal Sunday as the Cowboys won their third straight, topping the hard-luck Washington Redskins 27-24.
“That’s Romo. He’s like a snake, man,” Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “When you rush him, he’s slippery. He’s all over the place.”
Romo completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns — plus no interceptions and a 100-plus quarterback rating for the third straight week. He keeps, with no dispute, his title as the NFL’s Mr. November as he improved to 18-2 with 49 TDs and 12 interceptions in the month. The Cowboys (6-4) also keep their momentum in what is shaping up to be a fascinating December duel with the New York Giants for the NFC East title.
“He makes it look easy,” Witten said. “I think it starts with his ability to see it before the snap, and he has a great awareness about him and an ability to make those type of throws. He’s done it for a long time.”
On the heels of back-to-back double-digit wins, Romo and the Cowboys had to rally against a team that has been in the doldrums for more than a month. The Redskins (3-7) have lost six straight, the longest skid since owner Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999 and extending the longest losing run in Mike Shanahan’s head coaching career. The 1998 team started 0-7.
At least they mounted a stern challenge this time, proving there’s always some steam in the Dallas-Washington rivalry. The Redskins scored more points than the 20 they had in their three previous games combined. They sent the game to overtime on Rex Grossman’s 4-yard fade pass to Donte’ Stallworth with 14 seconds left in regulation and barely missed winning when Graham Gano’s 52-yard field goal was barely wide right on the opening possession of the extra period.
“It’s not one of those games where we just got beat down,” said Washington’s Jabar Gaffney, who caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. “We gave it away. We gave that one away. We’ve got to learn how to win again.”
The Redskins also suffered another injury along the offensive line. Left tackle Trent Williams hurt the MCL in his left knee on the missed overtime field goal. Shanahan said the injury “didn’t look very good.”
Grossman, making his second start since regaining the starting job from John Beck, completed 25 of 38 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Gano’s miss set the stage for a flashback moment. It was on a third-and-21 that Romo found Bryant open against cornerback DeAngelo Hall for a 30-yard gain that set up the winning field goal in the Cowboys’ 18-16 win over the Redskins in Week 3. Hall was again the victim in the key Romo-to-Bryant connection Sunday, leading to Bailey’s 39-yard field goal 9:21 into overtime.
“The way I’m playing right now, they need to go and cut me,” Hall said, “because I’m definitely not worth what I’m getting.”
All seemed set for a dreary Redskins day. They were slumping, and their rivals came in on a roll. There was minimal buzz for the usually electric “Dallas Week,” and there were so many Cowboys fans in the stadium that a huge roar went up when it was announced that the visitors had won the opening coin toss. Washington hadn’t scored in the first half or held a lead since Oct. 4 and was using its fifth starting offensive line configuration in six weeks.
Grossman’s 4-yard quarterback draw in the second quarter ended the first-half touchdown drought, and his 16-yard pass to Gaffney made the score 14-10 just before halftime — giving Washington that ever-elusive lead.
Rookie DeMarco Murray ran for 73 yards on a workhorse 25 carries and also caught a team-high six passes for 32 yards for the Cowboys. However, unlike the previous two weeks when he wasn’t sacked, Romo couldn’t escape the Redskins’ pass rush — he went down four times.
Nevertheless, he extended plays when he needed to. With the Cowboys trailing 17-10, he tossed the 7-yard strike to Robinson, then rolled left to spot a wide-open Witten for a 59-yard score, a play that lasted almost as long as Romo’s explanation.
“Once I got out of the pocket and started to roll, there was really one guy that was in the vicinity to where Jason’s angle was going,” he said. “So, I, just for a second, looked back. He kind of took it, stopped his feet. Because he was moving with me as I was moving left across the field with Jason right behind him, I just kind of stopped him with my eyes going back. He stopped, and then came back, and that’s when he was out of position. Jason’s angle was great, because he was kind of running away from him. It was perfect.”
As simple as that.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)