LANDOVER, Md. – Midway through the third quarter Sunday, knowing the Washington Redskins had scored on two straight possessions and three of their last four, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett called for an onside kick after his offense reclaimed a three-point lead.
"They (the Redskins) were moving the ball a lot starting in the late first quarter," Garrett said. "They had three or four drives in a row where they were having success. They had success coming out in the second half, so I just wanted to change it."
Dan Bailey's kick didn't travel 10 yards, though, and the Redskins took over at the Cowboys' 38-yard line.
[embeddedad0]Despite unfavorable field position, that's where the Dallas defense tightened up.
They allowed only six points (two field goals) over the final 20 minutes of play and shut out the Redskins on three fourth-quarter drives, including two straight stops to preserve a 27-23 victory at FedExField.
"We kept our poise," cornerback Brandon Carr said. "We didn't get the onside, which would've been big for us, but at the same time we had to go out there and play defense. The offense is doing a great job of keeping us off the field this year so we're fresh to go out there and play fast."
On the last two drives of the third quarter, the defense allowed only two field goals after the unsuccessful onside attempt and an Ezekiel Elliott fumble that gave the Redskins the ball inside the Dallas 40-yard line yet again.
Then, trailing 23-20 in the fourth quarter, safety Barry Church intercepted Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in the end zone. It was Washington's third straight trip inside the red zone without a touchdown.
The Cowboys took the lead for good on Dak Prescott's ensuing touchdown drive, and the defense stepped up yet again, stopping the Redskins on two straight fourth downs. The first was a pass breakup by linebacker Justin Durant on fourth-and-1 at the Washington 44.
"Coach (Jason Garrett) talks about finishing all the time," Durant said. "Competitive greatness is finishing well in times of adversity, and that was definitely a time for us to make a play."
In last Sunday's season-opening 20-19 loss, the Giants scored the deciding touchdown in the fourth quarter and then nearly ran the clock out on a run-heavy drive.
This Sunday, the defense authored a different ending.
"I thought they did an outstanding job in this game," Garrett said.