All hail, Dan Bailey.
A game that could be labeled as one of the ugliest seen this season through three quarters turned into thrilling fourth-quarter affair, capped off by the Cowboys' kicker splitting the uprights with only 14 seconds remaining to give Dallas a 19-16 victory over the rival Washington Redskins.
Bailey provided 13 of his team's points on the night as he was good on kicks of 38, 34 and 20 yards before nailing the final 54-yarder to keep alive whatever playoff hopes the Cowboys still have.
That brought an end to a fourth quarter that saw the two teams combine for 23 points, this after both sides could muster only six points each through the first three frames. Some would call it a defensive struggle to that point, but that would probably be a bit generous, considering it was less about the domination of the defenses and more about the ineptitude of the offenses in this Monday Night affair.
With Matt Cassel back behind center after the injury to Tony Romo, the Cowboys couldn't get much going early on, as the first half in particular was largely an exercise in frustration. At the break, Dallas had only 89 total yards of offense and actually had more penalties (five) than they did first downs (four).
Still, Cassel was efficient and did what needed to, especially considering the Cowboys mustered just 97 hard-fought yards on the ground, Darren McFadden the leading rusher with only 53 yards. Cassel would go on to finish with 222 yards through the air while completing 55 percent of his passes. And although he didn't throw a touchdown, perhaps more importantly, he didn't toss an interception either.
But while Dallas struggled to move the ball, so too did the Redskins offense, thanks to a stingy Cowboys defense. They held Washington to just 267 total yards and allowed only 6-of-16 conversions on third down. Sean Lee, in particular, was outstanding, finishing with 13 tackles and a sack, while DeMarcus Lawrence recorded two sacks of his own as well as a tackle for loss.
Because of the offensive outage, up until the final quarter the only real thing Cowboys fans had to cheer about was Jason Witten's second catch of the game, which came in the second quarter. The reception was the 1,000th of his career, making him just the 12th player in NFL history, and only the second tight end, to reach the 1,000 mark.
Things picked up in the fourth quarter, however, beginning with an inexplicable decision by Washington's DeSean Jackson. With the game tied at nine apiece, Jackson fielded a Chris Jones punt at his own 16-yard line with under two minutes to play. He started his way up the right side to the 24-yard line and then reversed field, going all the way back inside his 5-yard line in an effort to get around the left end. It didn't work, as not only was Jackson tackled, he fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Jones at the 15-yard line.
Given the gracious gift, Dallas was finally able to punch it into the end zone, McFadden providing the honors by rumbling in from 6 yards out to put Dallas up 16-9.
But with over a minute left in regulation, that was enough time for Jackson to redeem himself. A 41-yard kickoff return with a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on gave Washington possession at the Dallas 43-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Kirk Cousins found Jackson in the end zone for a 28-yard score to tie things up.
Which only set up Bailey's game-winning heroics. With the victory, the Cowboys moved to 4-8 on the year, only a game behind the other three teams in the NFC East, who are all tied at 5-7. Dallas now prepares to head to Green Bay to take on the Packers next Sunday.