Despite having to settle for six field goals and scoring zero touchdowns, botching five snaps and showing a general lack of chemistry, the Dallas Cowboys survived to beat the Washington Redskins by two points to move into a three-way tie with Washington and the Giants atop the wacky NFC East.
There are two ways to look at this.
On one hand…
Had this game been played at a neutral site against an opposing offense that was even half-decent in the red zone, the Cowboys would’ve lost. Andre Gurode was smiling somewhere as Phil Costa screwed up five snaps in one of the most dreadful performances from a center I’ve ever seen. With Costa struggling in borderline-comical fashion (I’d recommend he be required to take a breathalyzer test before leaving Cowboys Stadium) and the receivers making mistakes, Romo was losing his temper — you rarely see a quarterback become that visibly pissed off in a competitive game.
But on the other hand…
Dallas won. Without Miles Austin and with Romo hampered by rib and lung issues and with myriad miscues and despite failing to find paydirt in four trips to the red zone, they still found a way to defeat a team that was previously undefeated.
Some will argue that wins like those build character, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Dallas’ season go in one of several possible directions from here. If they can’t fix the problems that are plaguing a young offensive line, they’ll be hard pressed to escape games like these as the season wears on. They looked like a poorly-coached team on Monday night, which is rather disconcerting when you consider that Wade Phillips is no longer connected to the franchise.
And the Redskins are in a similar spot. They could walk away from this game encouraged by the red zone defense and Mike Shanahan could work some magic and fix the running game. But the Washington offense has been allergic to the red zone for some time, and that was once again the case tonight. On the bright side, they executed their final red zone possession wonderfully. Maybe the first half problems provided a wake-up call, despite the final score.
So it’s possible that we’ll look back at this game as a turning point for either team, but it’s tough to tell how each squad will react to such ugliness.
From a viewer’s perspective, it was more prime-time gold. Some classic errors (who doesn’t love watching “America’s Team” screw up?) and another unbeaten team falls by the wayside. (Leaving just the Super Bowl champions, the Lions and the Bills? That’s messed up.) A fitting conclusion to a week of entertaining nail-biters: