LANDOVER, MD – The Cowboys needed several big plays in the fourth quarter to survive a 24-23 win over the Redskins and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Both on offense and defense, the Cowboys rose up to win the game, but here are a few plays you might have forgotten that helped them get out of town with a one-point victory.
1. Illegal shift by Redskins –The Cowboys led 7-3 early in the second quarter and the Redskins had the ball at the Cowboys' seven on third down. A six-yard pass to Pierre Garcon to the one, likely would've resulted in Washington going for the score. But an illegal shift penalty on the tight end not getting set, pushed the ball back to the 12. The Redskins didn't get the first down and settled for a field goal. Even if Washington had gone for the touchdown on fourth-and-1, and not scored, it's unlikely the Cowboys would've marched 99 yards for the score on their next drive, pinned back at their own one. Four-point plays are huge in games that finish with a one-point deficit.
2. Heath with a pick -Washington was looking for points just before halftime but Kirk Cousins' pass to Santana Moss was behind the veteran receiver and resulted in a deflection that Jeff Heath picked off before it hit the ground. A field goal there would've been huge for the Redskins and was another missed opportunity that aided the Cowboys in the end.
3. Beasley on fourth down –There were so many plays on this drive that could get included here. Terrance Williams had a clutch sideline catch on third down and Miles Austin also had a third-down grab after Romo spun away from a sack. But on fourth-and-6 at the Redskins 40 with 9:06 to play and down by nine, it felt like the season was truly on the line. Romo found an open Cole Beasley for 20 yards that led to a crucial field goal. Miss that play there and the Redskins likely pound the ball and drain the clock.
4. Ware holds on to Cousins – DeMarcus Ware didn't get a sack in the game but it was close enough. On second-and-10 with 3:59 left, Cousins took off for what appeared to be a nice gain before Ware got a hold of his jersey and dropped him for a four-yard gain. More yards there and the Redskins have a more manageable third down, maybe even close enough to run Alfred Morris. Instead, the Cowboys held on third-and-6 on a pass over the middle to Garcon that Orlando Scandrick knocked away. Ware's tackle there was a big stop that likely went unnoticed. [embedded_ad]
5. Murray stopped at the one –This crazy sequence actually worked out for the Cowboys. On first-and-goal from the four, Murray got three yards to the one. If he scores, the Redskins get the ball back with 2:12 to play and a timeout, plus the two-minute warning. Instead, that play led to two more stops by the Redskins, including the nine-yard loss on third down. And that play was also huge because it let the Cowboys shave off 25 more seconds and pushed them back into a more comfortable passing down.