Perhaps the tryptophan kicked in a little early for the Cowboys in their annual Thanksgiving matchup.
While a nice afternoon nap is required for many an overly stuffed holiday reveler, such a snooze seemed to collectively hit the entire Cowboys team in the second quarter of their 38-31 loss to the Redskins. In the other three quarters combined, Dallas actually outscored their division rivals, 28-10.
Unfortunately, Washington racked up a remarkable 28 points in that second frame alone, the Cowboys never quite able to overcome a 25-point deficit. They made a valiant effort, down 28-6 with two minutes left in the third quarter, but in the end, 90,166 fans headed home to drown their sorrows in leftovers.
Even worse, the Cowboys were hit with three major injuries during the game. Wide receiver Miles Austin (hip), cornerback Orlando Scandrick (hand), linebacker Bruce Carter (elbow) and defensive end Jason Hatcher all were unable to finish the day's contest, the severity of their injuries not immediately known.
The Cowboys put up 458 total yards, compared to 437 by the Redskins, but committed three turnovers to Washington's one and lost the time of possession battle, 28:28 to 31:42.
Under pressure for much of the game, quarterback Tony Romo passed for 441 yards, completing 37-of-62 attempts. He tossed three touchdowns, but with two interceptions.
Coming off his big game against the Browns last Sunday, Dez Bryant continued to dominate. He caught eight passes for 145 yards with two scores, while tight end Jason Witten added 74 yards on nine grabs with Dwayne Harris totaling 71 yards on four receptions.
Continuing a troublesome trend all season, the Cowboys managed only 35 total rushing yards, with Felix Jones earning 14 of those on six carries. He did, however, pick up another 47 yards on three catches, also scoring a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense struggled at times to contain Griffin and were victimized by the big play. The former Heisman winner from Baylor finished with 311 yards on 20-of-28 passing with four touchdowns and a rare interception. He had scoring throws of 68, 59 and 29 yards.
Pierre Garcon led the charge on the receiving end with five catches for 93 yards and a score. Also getting into the end zone were Aldrick Robinson, Niles Paul and perennial Cowboys killer Santana Moss, had four receptions overall for 42 yards.
On the ground, rookie Alfred Morris proved troublesome as well, totaling 113 rushing yards on 24 carries with a score.
While the fans were raucous to start the game, the first quarter was relatively quiet on the field. The Dallas defense kept the Redskins in check, allowing only 46 yards of offense, the visitors failing to cross midfield.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys got on the board early, thanks in part to great field position. Starting their first possession of the game at the Redskins 49-yard line, Jones ran three times for 9 yards with Romo earning another 19 yards on three passes, the team reaching the Washington 12. From there, Dan Bailey split the uprights on a 30-yard field goal and a quick 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately, though, the Cowboys also lost Miles Austin during the drive, the receiver straining his right hip. With the injury, he was sent to the sideline for the remainder of the game.
The clock ticked over to quarter two with the Redskins sitting at their own 27-yard line. But two players later, Griffin went play-action and found a streaking Robinson on a post pattern, the speedy receiver having bolted behind cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Danny McCray. The quarterback launched a beauty of a pass, Robinson running under it and then into the end zone untouched, the Redskins moving ahead, 7-3.
While the change in momentum seemed minimal at first, the pendulum took a full swing to Washington's side soon thereafter. With rain actually coming down briefly inside the stadium, the roof having been opened prior to kickoff, the Cowboys were on the move when cornerback Josh Wilson laid a helmet on Bryant and the ball, the ensuing fumble scooped up by safety DeJon Gomes and returned 13 yards to the Dallas 49.
Handed a shorter field, Griffin then needed only six plays to get his team back in the end zone. After two Morris runs, Griffin threw a dart into Moss for 9 yards, then went to Pierre Garcon, who was covered by Carr, on a slant for 19 more.
With a first-and-goal at the Dallas 6-yard line, Carr was then called for pass interference in the end zone, providing a new set of downs at the 1-yard line. Not that they really needed four more, as the series was capped on the next play with Morris driving into the end zone for the score and 14-3 advantage.
Things didn't get any better. After the Cowboys went three-and-out, Griffin and Co. hit another home run. On second-and-12 from the Washington 41, the quarterback connected with Garcon in an opening over the middle, the receiver then dashing through the defense for a 59-yard touchdown. The visitors' third score in the second quarter bumped their lead up to 21-3 with just over two minutes remaining before the half.
To make matters worse. Earlier in the drive, cornerback Orlando Scandrick was hit by teammate Anthony Spencer on a tackle. He would leave the game with an injured left hand and did not return.
And, as they say, when it rains, it pours, although not literally in this sense as the showers had moved on. The troubles for the Cowboys certainly hadn't, though.
Romo got his troops moving again, working quickly with under two minutes left, his pass to Cole Beasley inching the team up to their own 46-yard line. But on second-and-10, the quarterback tried to feed another pass into Beasley cutting across the middle when cornerback DeAngelo Hall stepped in front to pick off the attempt and return it to the Dallas 33.
Four plays later, Griffin rolled to his right and zipped one past Carr to Moss, who got both feet down with just 10 seconds remaining for the Redskins' fourth score of the quarter and a commanding 28-3 lead at the break.
Following the special Salvation Army Red Kettle Kickoff halftime performance, featuring Kenny Chesney, the Cowboys came out for the second half determined to open things up. Working exclusively out of a spread, hurry-up offense, they were able to move from their own 20 to the Redskins 6-yard line. Jones did most of the damage, taking a short pass from Romo and running down the right sideline 33 yards.
But from there, they went backward, a dump-off to Lance Dunbar losing 4 yards with a penalty pushing them back 5 more. Bailey came out for a 33-yard field, the Cowboys at least getting points on the board, 28-6.
Of course, field goals weren't going to cut it at this point. Fortunately, later in the quarter, Dallas was able to provide a little excitement. With the defense now keeping the Redskins in check, Romo got his team in the end zone again. Starting at his own 15-yard line, he was forced to scramble out to his left, but found Bryant in the middle of the field, the receiver taking the pass, dashing out to the right sideline and going the distance untouched for an 85-yard score.
The play was the longest touchdown by the Cowboys since Jason Tucker reached paydirt on a 90-yard reception against the Giants on Jan. 2, 2000.
Washington responded, though. Now in the fourth quarter, the Redskins faced a third-and-1 at the Dallas 29-yard line when Griffin rolled to his right. With the secondary seemingly charging to stop the short dump-off, the quarterback found tight end Niles Paul all alone behind everybody. He caught the easy pass, rolled, got up and waltzed into the end zone to up the score to 35-13.
Of course, by this point, the defense was so banged up that stopping anyone would prove difficult. Now heading to the locker room was middle linebacker Bruce Carter, who left during the Redskins scoring drive with a left elbow injury.
Staying with the no-huddle offense, Romo quickly worked his team down the field, working passes to Bryant for 15 yards, Beasley to 11 and Harris for 36 to get down to the Washington 26-yard line. Five players later and Jones finally took a pass from Romo over the middle, turning and punching it in for the score. With a successful two-point conversion, Dallas trailed 35-21.
The momentum, though, was back behind the home team. On the second play of the Redskins' next possession, Griffin threw high over the middle and right into the diving arms of safety Charlie Peprah, who got up and ran it back 27 yards to the Washington 18-yard line.
Set up with great field position, the Cowboys moved up seven yards before the faced a fourth-and-3. Romo went to his go-to guy, throwing a pass to the left side of the end zone, where Bryant dove to haul in the catch, the score now a nail-biting 35-28.
Needing a stop more than ever, the Dallas defense kept the Redskins out of the end zone, but couldn't prevent another three points being tallied. Starting at his own 20, Griffin led his team to the Dallas 30-yard line, turning over the chains three times as the Cowboys couldn't get off the field. They finally settled for a 48-yard field goal to make it a two-possession game, 38-28 with 3:03 left on the clock.
That would prove to be the final nail in the coffin. Bryant nearly made an unbelievable catch in the end zone only to have the ball knocked away, the Cowboys having to settle for a 51-yard field goal from Bailey to bring the score to 38-31.
Dallas tried the onside kick, but the Redskins' Hall scooped up the bouncing ball and raced between the defenders toward the end zone. He could have easily scored, but instead elected to slide to a stop at the 1-yard line, Griffin then taking a knee to secure the game.
With the loss, the Cowboys and Redskins both moved to 5-6 on the season tied for second place in the NFC East.