Buehler bails out Cowboys in 33-30 over Redskins
The way the Dallas Cowboys have been playing defense, their offense can't ever seem to score enough points.
David Buehler bailed Dallas out with a 39-yard field goal in the final minute Sunday before a game-ending interception by Terence Newman in a 33-30 victory over Washington - after the Redskins had wiped out a 20-point deficit in the second half to tie the game.
''The biggest thing is don't blink, keep going,'' said interim coach Jason Garrett, whose Cowboys got inside the 25 on each of their first eight possessions through three quarters.
They scored three touchdowns, but twice failed to score in that span. Tashard Choice was stuffed on a fourth-and-goal from the 1, and Buehler missed a 35-yarder just before halftime. Buehler made three other field goals, two from 20 yards after Dallas was stopped at the 2.
''I'd take an ugly win over a hard-fought loss any day,'' said Newman, whose weaving return drained the clock at the end.
Dallas improved to 4-2 under Garrett, while the Redskins, who have benched a healthy Donovan McNabb for the rest of the season, lost their fourth straight. Both NFC East rivals are 5-9, tied at the bottom of the division.
Rex Grossman, expected to finish the season in McNabb's place, was 25 of 43 passing for 322 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
''I didn't have jitters, but it took a while to get into the flow of the game,'' Grossman said. ''Maybe we started our run a tad too late.''
Especially against a Dallas defense that has allowed at least 30 points in four consecutive games. That's the team's worst streak since five in a row during the 1-15 season in 1989.
Three of Grossman's TD passes came on consecutive series to tie it at 30. The four scores matched a career high, set in 2006.
''I wanted to give him an opportunity and I thought he took advantage of that opportunity,'' coach Mike Shanahan said. ''It's always tough when you don't play for a while. ... He demonstrated a lot of poise.''
The home finale came seven weeks earlier than the Cowboys had hoped for in a season that began with Super Bowl expectations - and the opportunity to be the first team to host the championship game.
Dallas instead got off to a 1-7 start, went through the first midseason coaching change in team history and will finish with its first losing record in six seasons. The Cowboys will be done playing long before the Super Bowl on Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium, where Dallas won only twice this season.
At least they won Sunday, and have a chance to avoid last place in the NFC East.
''To be 4-9 playing this game, against a team that's out of the playoffs, too, I think that speaks volumes about the character and the mental toughness of this group,'' tight end Jason Witten said. ''Really beyond all that, we're building for something else. That's the mentality you have to have. ... We've got to see the positive and try to build off this, even though this is obviously not the ideal situation.''
Dallas plays Christmas night in Arizona, then closes the season at NFC East-leading Philadelphia.
The Redskins, with games left against Jacksonville and the New York Giants, have lost six of seven. They are trying to avoid their third consecutive last-place finish.
Witten caught 10 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, becoming only the fourth tight end in NFL history with 600 career catches. He did it the fastest of any, in 125 games.
Santana Moss caught two TDs and might've had a third late. The cornerback covering him fell and there was only a safety to beat when a ball hit Moss in stride around midfield - but he dropped it. The Redskins punted and the Cowboys answered with the winning drive.
Dallas went only 31 yards over seven plays, but drained plenty of time and set up Buehler's final kick. He has had the winning kick in Dallas' last two victories.
Dallas led 13-0 before Washington crossed midfield. Shanahan's benching of McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in the third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that made it 27-7.
But the Cowboys must have something against lopsided scores.
''Right now, apparently we do,'' said Jon Kitna, the Cowboys' fill-in quarterback who was 25 of 37 for 305 yards with two TDs. ''We need to be better in the red zone. ... We weren't today.''
Tony Romo hasn't played since breaking his collarbone Oct. 25. Though it has been expected that he could be cleared to return Christmas night, owner Jerry Jones wasn't optimistic after seeing him throw before this game.
''Frankly, he's still having sensitivity there,'' Jones said. ''We're a little behind where I thought we would be on how healthy he is. ... He's not ready to play. That doesn't mean he might not get out there, throw and practice, but he's not ready.''