Cowboys regret all sorts of mistakes vs. Redskins
Roy Williams went to his seat on the team plane for the flight home from Washington and there was his assigned traveling companion, Alex Barron.
Imagine that: The guy who appeared to have caught the game-winning touchdown for the Dallas Cowboys was forced to spend the next three hours next to the guy whose holding penalty wiped away the points, sealing a 13-7 loss to the Redskins in the season opener.
Williams didn't say a word.
He just reached out a hand and bumped fists with Barron, acknowledging no hard feelings.
''That silent dap said it all,'' Williams said at team headquarters Monday. ''He said he was sorry for blowing the TD. I said, 'Don't worry about it.'
''I mean, it happens,'' Williams continued. ''You don't want it to happen in that situation. You'd rather it happen in the first quarter or the second quarter; the last play of the game, it's tough.''
The Cowboys went out of their way during and after the game to support all their teammates who made costly mistakes. It's a long list considering there were 11 penalties before the final zinger, a missed 34-yard field goal by the new place-kicker and an unthinkable, game-changing turnover on the final play of the first half.
Dallas was down just 3-0 and 64 yards from the end zone when Tony Romo scrambled to throw a Hail Mary, then decided to flick the ball to Tashard Choice. The third-year running back fumbled for the first time in his career and Washington's DeAngelo Hall returned it for what would be the Redskins' only touchdown of the game.
While Romo and Choice are culpable in their own ways, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett started it by deciding to do more than simply take a knee with 4 seconds left and coach Wade Phillips blamed himself for not overruling Garrett.
Phillips didn't want to get into the play-call for the infamous final play of the game - as in, why there wasn't another blocker to help fill-in starter Barron since he'd been having trouble slowing Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo all game and already had been penalized twice for holding.
The plays at the end of each half has ignited discussion about the club's chain of command. And that conversations always includes the reminder that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired Garrett days before he hired Phillips, and that Garrett makes about $3 million per season.
''I have the right to do anything I want to do,'' Phillips said. ''Sometimes I do (overrule Garrett), sometimes I don't. The situation before the half, I should have.''
Why didn't he?
Partly because he was talking to other defensive coaches about how stupid (Phillips' word) the Redskins were for declining a penalty on the previous play. They ended up accepting it and Garrett stuck with the Hail Mary call he'd sent in when it looked like Dallas was going to be on its 46, not the 36.
Phillips is also the defensive coordinator and he acknowledged that he usually handles his side of the ball and lets Garrett handle his. But he also said it was that way with offensive coordinators he's had at other stops, and that it makes no difference that he hired those guys.
''I'm not going to go into our relationship and what we say and don't say,'' Phillips said. ''We work together. He works for me. And I think Jason works at what he does and tries to get the right plays and the right people. And we did that some of the time. He's as frustrated as I am.''
Garrett should be frustrated.
His unit gained 380 yards, yet scored only one touchdown. That lone scoring drive covered 34 yards. Dallas cracked Washington's 40-yard line on three of its first four drives and didn't get any points out of it.
Penalties were an issue, but there also was curious play-calling - such as having Marion Barber try the first halfback pass of his career after six straight completions by Romo had put the Cowboys on the Redskins 12-yard line. This is a recurrence of a theme, too; Dallas set a franchise record for yards last season, but scored fewer points than the previous year, when it missed the playoffs.
Phillips' defense, meanwhile, had to swallow losing a game in which it allowed just two field goals.
Defensive end Marcus Spears said this loss was more painful because he felt the Cowboys outplayed the Redskins, but that fact also makes him optimistic for the rest of the season. After all, he stressed, there are 15 games left.
''We're not going to kill the horse just yet,'' he said. ''We may be limping a little bit, but you can still come out of the gate and play well.''
There was some good news for Dallas on Monday.
Right tackle Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier are recovered enough from knee injuries that they're expected to practice Wednesday, and they could play the home opener Sunday against Chicago. Colombo's return would send Barron back to the bench.
Also, star linebacker DeMarcus Ware was fine after injuring his neck on Washington's final drive. He left and did not return.