ARLINGTON, Texas - With his team up by 20 points in the third quarter and Rex Grossman doing a lousy job as Washington's new starting quarterback, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones let out a sigh of relief. He figured the game was "tucked away . . . a cakewalk."
Apparently, he forgot how lousy his defense is.
Grossman and the Redskins rallied to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter, leaving Jones gasping for air. Then, David Buehler put Dallas back ahead with a 39-yard field goal with 50 seconds left and the defense finally came through with a crucial stop, pulling out a 33-30 victory yesterday.
"I'd take an ugly win over a hard-fought loss any day," said cornerback Terence Newman, whose interception and weaving return drained the clock at game's end.
Dallas led 13-0 before Grossman had crossed midfield. Washington coach Mike Shanahan's benching of Donovan McNabb looked even worse when Grossman fumbled early in third quarter and the Cowboys turned it into a touchdown that stretched their lead to 27-7. They could've been up even more, but had only field goals to show for drives that reached the 20 and 2, and didn't have anything to show for drives that reached the 1 and 18.
Still, the way the game was going, what could go wrong?
Well, Shanahan figured out a few things, and so did Grossman. He led the Redskins to touchdowns on three straight drives over the third and fourth quarters, getting two-point conversions on the last two. Mike Sellers danced with joy after catching a lob to tie the game at 30 with 7:37 left.
Santana Moss caught two of Grossman's touchdown throws and might've had a third in the closing minutes. The cornerback covering him fell and there was only a safety to beat when a ball hit Moss in stride around midfield - but Moss dropped it. The Redskins punted and the Cowboys answered with the winning drive.
"I'm just happy I got that opportunity," said Buehler, who's had the winning kick in Dallas' last two victories.