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(Sunday, September 12th)
Final Score: Washington 13, Dallas 7
Landover, MD (Sports Network) - DeAngelo Hall returned a fumble for a score and Graham Gano kicked two field goals, as the revamped Redskins held on to edge the Cowboys, 13-7, after a last-play Dallas touchdown was nullified by penalty.
Washington made its debut under new head coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Shanahan, who directed the Denver Broncos to a pair of Super Bowl victories and seven playoff appearances during a successful 14-year run from 1995-2008, was hired by the Redskins in January to replace Jim Zorn, who was fired after a 4-12 season.
Washington acquired McNabb from NFC East rival Philadelphia in April. McNabb spent his first 11 NFL seasons with Philadelphia, leading the team to five NFC Championship Games and becoming the franchise leader in many categories. The six-time Pro Bowl selection completed 15-of-32 passes for 171 yards Sunday to help the Redskins (1-0) win their season-opener for the first time since 2007.
"We made enough plays and drove the ball, and got the chains moving and got in the red zone. We've just got to finish it," McNabb said. "That's discouraging for us because we have been progressing all throughout the preseason as well as we had a great week of practice. So we have to be very critical of ourselves on the offensive side and be able to make sure that we make the corrections."
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 282 yards and a touchdown, and led Dallas (0-1) on a potential game-winning drive with under two minutes left. On the final play of the game, Romo completed a pass to Roy Williams in the right corner of the end zone, but a holding call on tackle Alex Barron negated the score as Washington held on.
"I thought we won, just at the moment," Romo said. "About 10, 15 yards after running away, I kind of noticed people weren't coming out on the field. So it's hard to swallow, it's a tough one to take. Leaves a bad taste in your mouth, for sure."
Romo completed 31-of-47 passes, while Miles Austin had 10 receptions for 146 yards and the Cowboys' lone touchdown. Dallas totaled 380 yards, but most of its game was defined by missed offensive opportunities and penalties. The Cowboys were flagged 12 times for 91 yards.
Both those factors came into play after the Redskins took a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter on Gano's 29-yard kick.
Dallas got deep into Washington territory on the ensuing drive, but a pass interference call on rookie receiver Dez Bryant forced the Cowboys into a 3rd- and-14 from the 16-yard line. After an incompletion, Dallas set up for a field goal, but David Buehler's 34-yard attempt was wide right.
Later in the second quarter, Dallas started at its own one-yard line and managed to cross midfield. However, a delay-of-game call on Romo set Dallas back five yards, and the Cowboys had to punt.
Dallas got the ball back once more, but with under 30 seconds left in the half. An offensive holding call on Barron put the Cowboys in a 1st-and-20 at their own 36 with just four seconds left. But instead of taking a knee, Dallas ran one last play, which turned out to be a disastrous decision.
Romo sent a lateral pass to his right for Tashard Choice, who made the catch and was greeted by defenders. As he was being tackled, Hall ripped the ball out, scooped it up and ran it back 32 yards for a touchdown as time expired.
"That was my fault before the half. We should have taken a knee. Well, not should have taken a knee. The right thing to do was going in 3-0 and we didn't do that," said Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. "Now, if you catch the ball with four seconds left, you don't need to try to make an extra yard or two. You can get down with the ball. So that's our fault, too."
Washington looked to build on its 10-0 lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, as it advanced upfield on a drive marked by four penalties -- three of which were committed by Dallas.
One of the flags, a defensive offside call on Orlando Scandrick, nullified a 36-yard field goal and gave Washington a new set of downs, and the Redskins eventually had a 1st-and-goal from the five.
After McNabb was incomplete on three consecutive attempts, the Redskins set up for the short field goal. However, punter Josh Bidwell fumbled after receiving the snap, and Dallas took over.
Later in the quarter, Dallas began a drive at the Washington 34 thanks to a short punt by Bidwell, and used the advantageous field position to get its first score. Romo found Austin over the middle for a four-yard touchdown with 1:41 left in the frame.
Neither team had much offensive success in the fourth quarter, though Washington added a 49-yard field goal by Gano with 1:50 left.
While that gave the Cowboys enough time for a scoring drive, their chances looked grim after they faced a 4th-and-10 from the Washington 43 with 19 seconds remaining.
However, Romo connected with a wide-open Austin over the middle for a 30-yard gain. The Dallas quarterback threw the ball away on first down before sending a wobbler over the middle incomplete. That left three seconds left on the clock, and Romo had to scramble on the final play as he tried to find a receiver. He found Williams, but because Barron had wrapped his arm around the neck of a Redskins defender, the touchdown was nullified.
"I'm like, 'Oh my goodness. This doesn't make any sense.' To fight that hard and for those guys to drive down the field, it was definitely a little heart- wrenching," Hall said. "But I did see that flag on the field. Didn't really know what it was for. I kind of thought he scrambled past the line of scrimmage and threw the ball. Didn't really know. Saw the referee make the holding signal, and I sprinted off the field."
Dallas won both matchups with the Redskins last year, and three in a row overall. The Redskins' last win over the Cowboys prior to Sunday came on September 28, 2008 at Dallas...Marion Barber had 39 yards rushing to lead the Cowboys...Clinton Portis had 18 carries for 63 yards for Washington. Chris Cooley made six catches for 80 yards, while Santana Moss had six receptions for 77 yards.
09/13 02:35:08 ET