IRVING, Texas– A 54-yard field goal by Dan Bailey – the 10th game winner of his career – was enough to outlast the Redskins in the final seconds Monday night.
But quarterback Matt Cassel and the Cowboys know they simply can't expect to win most games going 58 minutes, 41 seconds of a 60-minute game without a touchdown, as they did against Washington until Darren McFadden scored on the second-to-last drive.
"That's one of the things that we talked about today is we've got to continue to work hard about converting these field goals into touchdowns," Cassel said, "and being better in the red zone, being better at situational football, especially on third down. Those are things that every week come up and I think if you can be good in situational football, you're going to give your team a chance to win each and every week."
Ironically, many thought the offense left too much time for the Redskins to tie the game before Bailey's deciding field goal. But McFadden's touchdown with 1:19 remaining was the only successful red zone conversion in four chances Monday night. The other three drives ended in field goals. They also were 1 of 9 on third down for the game.
This season the Cowboys rank 28th in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns on 15 of 34 trips inside the 20-yard line (44.1 percent). Sunday's opponent, the Green Bay Packers, rank 10th with a 60.8-percent conversion rate.
The Cowboys' 18.6 points per game ranks 29th. Even without injured Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have topped that point total in eight of 12 games.
Cassel completed 16 of 29 passes for 222 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions against Washington, his fifth start for an injured Tony Romo. He can't try to match Rodgers, a former NFL and Super Bowl MVP, throw for throw. But he'll have to put the offense in position to score touchdowns against a Green Bay team that averaged 30 points a game only a season ago.
"This is the ultimate team sport, obviously. I don't go across the ball from Aaron, obviously," Cassel said. "At the same time, as a competitor you know you're going up against one of the best and you've got to bring your A game. At the same time, it's going to be a complete team effort because they're a good football team."