ARLINGTON, TEXAS—Thanksgiving week is very tough on six teams every year in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys are one of them. It is hard enough to nurse injuries over just three days rest but to try to fix an offense in that short time as well may be asking a bit too much. The Cowboys needed a fourth quarter touchdown from Tony Romo to Patrick Crayton to offset two Washington Redskins field goals, for a 7-6 win on Sunday. The Cowboys are now 7-3 and maintain their lead atop the NFC East.
With the Redskins boasting the top passing defense in the NFL and Albert Haynesworth out with an ankle injury there was no mistaking how the Cowboys planned to control this game, running the ball. They showed their hand with seven of the first nine plays coming on the ground and though there was some success, with 108 rushing yards at the half, there was a big goose egg on the scoreboard after drive ending turnovers and a 2-for-6 effort on third down.
"There's not much concern," said Cowboys receiver Roy Williams who didn't have a catch in the game. "We know that we just need to execute better. We drove the ball down, had a turnover, kept driving the ball down and we kind of stalled out at the end."
So did the Redskins. Understandably so, playing most of the game with a third string running back and missing two field goals. It left the Cowboys defense licking their chops and for the first time since last December, that unit did not allow its opponent to score a touchdown. "They only gave up 6 points," said Crayton. "We can't keep leaving our defense high and dry like that. We thank them all the time for keeping us in games." Of course the best way to thank them is to go out and win the game.
With an aching back as a result of being kneed while making a touchdown saving tackle after a first quarter fumble, Tony Romo converted a 3rd and 3 with a first down run and then completed six straight passes including the game winner on a broken play to Crayton in the end zone.
"I saw Romo scramble and I had a linebacker on me," said Crayton. "I stopped and he kept going and Romo threw it to me."
Maybe all that off-season golf that Romo played actually helped him on the football field today because despite what he had been through, scoring just one touchdown in the previous 21 offensive possessions he remembered one thing Tiger Woods told him during the off-season.
"We talked about it sometimes and he (Tiger) says you could play great, horrible, whatever through 17 holes but it all doesn't matter if you're tied for the lead on 18," Romo said. "You could have bogeyed 6 in a row but if you get yourself mentally to the point where it doesn't matter and it's just about executing right now and doing what matters, you'll deal with the other stuff later." And that's what happened on the game winning drive, much to the delight of Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett "He's consistently done that since I've had the good fortune of being around him," Garrett said. "He doesn't let previous things negatively affect him, he just keeps playing. I remember other games he was not as good, but he keeps plugging away. He has a comfort level in these situations. A lot of quarterbacks thrive in being in these situations. He's one of them," Garrett said.
Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones was thrilled with the outcome, despite having to make a trip into the team's locker room at halftime to share his frustrations to the team. Winning by even one point turned the frustration into relief. "I have to pinch myself," said Jones. "I almost can't realize that by scoring only seven points, we were able to beat that team out there today."
It's only the second time in Cowboys history this team has won a game scoring seven points or less. They might not want to try tempting fate twice in one week, with the Raiders coming to town on Thursday.