LANDOVER, Md. – The Cowboys' defense continued its bend-but-don't-break ways as one of the stingiest groups in the league through seven weeks.
It just wasn't enough yet again on the road.
In Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Redskins, the defense held Washington to 305 total yards of offense. The Redskins converted only 3 of 12 third downs. They were 0 of 2 in the red zone, settling for field goals.
Most importantly, the 13 points allowed by the Dallas defense was its lowest total of the season in four road games. Washington got its final touchdown off a Preston Smith fumble recovery in the fourth quarter.
"The defense went out there and played their tail off," Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott said. "We have to do better on offense. This defense is playing as good as any other defense in the league and probably the best defense in the league and we're not giving them any help."
The offense battled back late with two efficient drives that nearly tied the game, starting with a 12-play, 74-yard series that ended in a Dak Prescott touchdown run with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter. On the next series, Brett Maher's 52-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright as time expired.
But, similar to the Cowboys' previous three road losses, the offense just couldn't get started quickly enough.
And the defense is still looking for more ways to help them.
For the first time in three games, they didn't record a takeaway Sunday. Missed tackles led to the game's opening score – a 23-yard touchdown catch by running back Kapri Bibbs. Quarterback Alex Smith was pressured often but sacked only once, as the pass rush couldn't quite "close the deal," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said.
"He's a good athlete back there," Marinelli said. "I thought we affected him. But in a game like this, this close, you've got to get him on the ground."
And starting running back Adrian Peterson showed little signs of age at 33 years old, racking up 99 yards on 24 carries. Too often he was tough to bring down.
"He's a complete legend, one of the best I've ever played against, a sure-fire Hall of Famer," linebacker Sean Lee said. "Just an incredible amount of respect for how he plays, how he's still playing. He's one of the toughest challenges ever. He played tough tonight, so we're going to have to find a way to double back and find a way to stop him later this year."