LANDOVER, Md. - The Dallas Cowboys returned to the playoffs last night, dominating their 100th meeting with the Washington Redskins and setting up an NFC East title showdown Sunday with the Eagles.
Tony Romo threw for 286 yards, Jason Witten had a career-long 69-yard reception to set up a score, and the defense pitched the rivalry's first shutout in six years in a 17-0 win over the Redskins.
The victory eliminated the New York Giants from playoff contention and gave the Cowboys a jinx-bursting late-season winning streak. After starting 0-2 this month, Dallas recovered to win back-to-back December games for first time since 2003.
The Cowboys (10-5) will host the Eagles (11-4) in Sunday's regular-season finale, with the winner taking the division crown and the loser settling for a wild-card berth. The NFL has moved the kickoff time from 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Dallas holds a commanding 59-39-2 lead in the 50-year-old Redskins-Cowboys rivalry and got its first shutout since a 27-0 win Dec. 14, 2003. The Cowboys didn't allow Washington to score a touchdown this year - the other meeting was a 7-6 win on Nov. 22 - and they played their part in the Redskins' first winless season in NFC East play since 1994.
The Redskins (4-11) put on another embarrassing performance against a rival in prime time, following last Monday night's 45-12 pasting by the Giants.
Except for Witten's big play, the Cowboys nickel-and-dimed their way down the field throughout the game. They didn't blow out the Redskins the way the Giants did, mainly because of three drives that ended inside Washington's 40-yard line with no points to show for them: They ran out the clock when receiver Miles Austin didn't get out of bounds as the clock expired to end the half, and Marion Barber was stopped twice on fourth-and-1 on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter.
Barber was also stopped on third-and-1 at the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter, but this time coach Wade Phillips sent on former Redskins kicker Shaun Suisham. To a hearty round of boos, Suisham made a 23-yarder - the same distance of the one he missed for Washington against New Orleans on Dec. 6, costing him his job two days later.
Romo finished 25 for 38 and had a touchdown pass - to Roy Williams - and an interception, his first in five games. Witten caught six passes for 117 yards. The defense held Washington to 218 total yards.
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed in memory of longtime Washington sportscaster George Michael, who died on Christmas Eve at 70.
Dallas 7 7 0 3 – 17
Washington 0 0 0 0 – 0
Dal–R.Williams 4 pass from Romo (Suisham kick), 8:33.
Dal–Barber 3 run (Suisham kick), 8:00.
Dal–FG Suisham 23, 7:44.
First downs 22 15
Total Net Yards 393 218
Rushes-yards 30-108 18-43
Passing 285 175
Punt Returns 2-(-2) 3-13
Kickoff Returns 1-20 2-37
Interceptions Ret. 1-9 1-13
Comp-Att-Int 25-38-1 24-39-1
Sacked-Yards Lost 1-1 3-24
Punts 3-51.3 8-37.3
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 3-0
Penalties-Yards 4-21 4-33
Time of Possession 35:02 24:58
Rushing: Dallas, Barber 17-63, Jones 10-58, Choice 1-1, Romo 1-(minus 1), Austin 1-(minus 13). Washington, Ganther 7-13, Campbell 4-13, Mason 4-11, Cartwright 3-6.
Passing: Dallas, Romo 25-38-1-286. Washington, Campbell 24-39-1-199.
Receiving: Dallas, Austin 9-92, Witten 6-117, Barber 4-30, Jones 4-27, Crayton 1-16, R.Williams 1-4. Washington, Moss 8-92, Cartwright 5-14, Kelly 4-25, Randle El 3-21, Davis 2-29, Ganther 1-16, Yoder 1-2.