LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys pulled off their usual December swoon in the third quarter, leaving more than enough time for a comeback.
Romo recovered from a bad interception and rallied the Cowboys from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit Sunday, finding DeMarco Murray for a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 1:08 remaining to give the Cowboys a 24-23 win over the Washington Redskins.
The victory ended a two-game Dallas skid — as well as a five-game December losing streak — and sets up a winner-take-all regular season finale for the NFC East title next week, when the Cowboys (8-7) host the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles, 8-6 entering their Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears, lost at home to Dallas 17-3 on Oct. 20.
The Redskins (3-12) lost their seventh straight, the second in a row by one point. Pierre Garcon (11 catches, 144 yards) broke Art Monk’s single-season franchise reception record, while coach Mike Shanahan clinched his worst record in his 20 seasons as a head coach.
After blowing a 23-point lead in a one-point loss to the Green Bay Packers the previous week, Romo and the Cowboys nearly pulled a repeat.
They blew a 14-6 halftime lead by committing turnovers on back-to-back drives, including an interception by DeAngelo Hall that led to a touchdown that gave the Redskins a 20-14 lead.
Romo was picked off twice late in the game against the Packers, and his pick on Sunday came when he was trying to get the ball to Dez Bryant — but Hall had the inside position even before Bryant slipped on the wet turf.
Romo walked off the field slowly, looking at the huge scoreboard to watch the replay of his latest late-season gaffe.
The next Dallas drive was a three-and-out with a sack, and a late hit personal foul on J.J. Wilcox during Washington’s subsequent possession helped set up a field goal that put the Redskins ahead 23-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But Romo and the Cowboys mounted a comeback. A fourth-and-6 at the Washington 40-yard line was converted with a 20-yard pass to Cole Beasley, leading to a 25-yard field goal by Dan Bailey that cut the lead to six with 6:09 to play.
Then the Cowboys’ worst-in-the-NFL defense held steady — despite the mounting injuries that have decimated the linebackers — allowing one first down before forcing the Redskins to punt. Romo and the offense took over at their 13 with 3:39 remaining.
On the fourth play of the drive, Romo scrambled and scrambled some more — until he looked far downfield and spotted Terrance Williams, who was all alone after cornerback Josh Wilson slipped on the turf. Romo flung the ball on the run for a 51-yard completion to the Washington 21.
Then came a 17-yard completion to Bryant to set up a first-and-goal at the 4, and a 3-yard run by Murray that put the ball at the 1.
Then came another near-meltdown.
After Murray was stuffed on second-and-goal, the Cowboys called a sweep to the left that resulted in a 9-yard loss. Romo and Murray then pulled it out with the 10-yard TD pass, a play in which Romo had to scramble again and in which Murray managed to get to the end zone just beyond the pylon.
Romo completed 17 of 27 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns. Murray ran for 96 yards, becoming the first Cowboys back to rush for 1,000 yards since Julius Jones in 2006.
Kirk Cousins, starting while Robert Griffin III is benched for the rest of the season, was 21 for 36 for 197 yards for Washington.
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