Cowboys kick out of losing streak
IRVING, Texas (AP) – For three quarters, the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins really looked like they were playing the ”Gutter Bowl.”
Then two of the NFL’s worst teams played to an exciting finish.
Tim Seder, whose kicking leg collided with a horse during pregame warmups, made a 26-yard field goal as time expired Monday night to give Dallas a 9-7 victory, its first of the year.
The Cowboys (1-4) won their eighth straight game against the Redskins (0-5), who lost their first seven games in 1998.
The only positive for Washington, which led 7-3 early in the fourth quarter, was the close loss. The Redskins had been beaten by at least 14 points in every game while getting outscored 135-25.
The wretched records of the once-proud teams prompted Washington defensive end Kenard Lang to give the game its nickname. He noted that the franchises that have won a combined eight Super Bowls are in the gutter and ”are trying to climb out of it.”
Instead of getting a competitive game from equally inept teams, Washington and Dallas traded silly mistakes until Tony Banks threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Michael Westbrook early in the fourth quarter to give the Redskins a 7-3 lead.
Dallas – which fittingly won without scoring a touchdown – made it 7-6 when Seder kicked a 39-yard field goal with 6:36 left.
The Redskins answered by driving into Dallas territory, moving slowly and burning lots of clock, only to see Stephen Davis fumble at the Cowboys’ 38-yard-line. Dallas lineman John Nix caused the miscue, which was upheld by video review, and Greg Ellis recovered it.
With 2:40 to play and two timeouts left, Anthony Wright completed passes to Darrin Chiaverini and Raghib Ismail – his only healthy receivers – to reach the Washington 34.
The Cowboys kept the ball on the ground, converting a third-and-2 on a run by Troy Hambrick, then getting a 13-yard run from Emmitt Smith to set up the game-winning kick. Smith ran 25 times for a 107 yards, his first 100-yard game of the season.
Seder’s final kick was perfect. He showed none of the ill effects of having his right leg grazed by a horse that was on the field for pregame festivities. The kicker backed into the horse and their legs accidentally met. He missed kicks of 41 and 52 yards.
Flash bulbs popped as the game-winner went through and Dallas players ran on the field celebrating as if they’d won a much bigger bowl. Hambrick tore off his helmet and spun it on the ground as if he was twirling a touchdown ball in the end zone.
If not for the exciting ending, this game might have been remembered for the long injury report for both teams.
Washington’s Pro Bowl tight end Stephen Alexander sprained his right ankle and rookie cornerback Fred Smoot sprained his left knee.
Dallas lost receivers Joey Galloway (sprained left ankle) and Reggie Swinton (strained right hamstring) and fullback Robert Thomas (sprained left ankle).
Seder’s first field goal came just before halftime, giving Dallas a 3-0 lead. By not scoring in the first three quarters, Washington became the first team since the 1943 Brooklyn Dodgers to have only one touchdown in the first 19 quarters of the season.
They avoided stretching it to 20 when Banks found Westbrook wide open beyond two Dallas defenders. Westbrook caught the high pass and landed just over the goal line.
Banks, who was Dallas’ starting quarterback until getting cut midway through training camp, raised his arms and pointed up, holding them there for several seconds.
Banks finished 10-of-18 for 132 yards. He didn’t make any turnovers, like the Cowboys were expecting, instead getting the key one from Davis, who had 99 yards on 23 carries.
Wright, who is starting in place of injured rookie starter Quincy Carter, was 15-of-28 for 177 yards with one interception. He ran eight times for 32 yards while winning for the first time in seven starts.
This was only the fourth time in the 42-year history of these teams that the winner would come out with its first victory of the season. Through two quarters, neither seemed to want it.
Dallas made the first bad move by getting Swinton, their third receiver and top kick returner, and Seder nicked up in pregame warmups. Washington answered by fumbling its first snap and not getting a first down until the final play of the first quarter.
By losing Swinton and Galloway, the Cowboys were down to two healthy receivers by the end of the second quarter. At halftime, Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington had cost his team almost as many yards in roughness penalties (30) as his offense gained on the ground (35).
Washington wasted a great scoring chance when Smoot intercepted a deep pass to Galloway and returned it 36 yards to the Dallas 40. The Redskins were called for a false start before the first play and wound up punting.
The Cowboys almost blew their early lead right after they took it.
With 21 seconds left in the half, they tried an onside kick and Washington recovered at its 46. Banks completed two passes to reach the Cowboys’ 26, but with 1 second left Brett Conway missed a 44-yard field goal.
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