Great comeback but familiar result for Redskins

Great comeback but familiar result for Redskins
December 20, 2010, 2:02 am
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Sunday, December 19, 2010, 9:01 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer
CSNwashington.com

ARLINGTON, Texas Two months ago, the Redskins went on the road and used six takeaways to beat a Chicago team that will likely win its division. Even though the offense was struggling, the Redskins were 4-3 and everything was in front of the them.

Theyve won once since.

The skid reached six losses in seven games Sunday when a gallant second-half comeback went for naught after David Buehlers fourth field goal, a 39-yard attempt, split the uprights with 50 seconds remaining to lift Dallas past the Redskins 33-30 at Cowboys Stadium.

The Redskins (5-9) clinched a sixth losing season under Dan Snyders ownership and need to finish well to avoid a third straight NFC East last-place finish.

Its very shocking because we had an opportunity to be 5-3 and now weve won only one of the last seven, linebacker London Fletcher said in an empty Redskins locker room. We definitely let this season get away from us.

After Buehlers field goal, the Redskins reached their own 48 when Rex Grossman was intercepted by Terence Newman, who ran out the remaining seconds.

At least the players exhibited some want-to, rallying from a 20-point deficit to tie the score at 30-all with 7:37 remaining. On their next drive, Santana Moss got open downfield but dropped what could have been a 75-yard touchdown.

Missed first-half tackles. A second-half dropped pass. Untimely sacks, like two in a row after Moss drop. Thats how teams lose five games by four or fewer points like the Redskins.

We can watch the film and say we did a lot of great things, but ultimately we havent found a way to win all year, tight end Chris Cooley said. Were a team finding ways to lose.

Donovan McNabb couldnt be pinned with this loss. He watched as a healthy non-starter for the first time in 11 years and Grossman justified Mike Shanahans decision to change quarterbacks after Thursdays practice.

Starting his first game in more than two years, Grossman went 25-of-43 for 322 yards, two interceptions and a career-tying record four touchdowns.

The Redskins cracked 30 points for the first time this year.

It doesnt surprise me because what you see in practice usually equates to the game, Shanahan said of Grossman. Thats one of the reasons we wanted to give him that opportunity hes been doing it in practice consistently.

But practice isnt like a game and Grossman had some dust to knock off. He started 3-of-6 for 30 yards in the first quarter with a poorly-thrown interception and 4-of-7 for 78 yards in the second quarter.

After losing a fumble on the opening second-half series, Grossman and the Redskins offense turned things into overdrive, scoring touchdowns on three consecutive possessions that, combined with two two-point conversions, allowed them to erase the 20-point deficit.

Grossman threw scores of 10 and 5 yards to Moss and then 5 yards to Cooley, who scored for the first time in 11 weeks.

We had great tempo, Cooley said. Theyre moving around and we were snapping the ball. Ive never really been a guy that panics on the sideline or gets down. You just have to find a way to make plays and thats what we did.

Said Grossman: I know I can play better than what I played today. It was a tough situation, tough stadium to come into and theyre a good team. Maybe we just started it a tad bit too late.

A tad bit too late, exactly.

Only Dallas red zone incompetence (3-for-7) kept the Redskins in the game. The first half was a debacle the Cowboys outgained the Redskins 281-116 and led 20-7, a lead that was soon stretched to 20 points when DeMarcus Wares sackstrip of Grossman gave Dallas a short field when Tashard Choice scored on a 3-yard run.

At that point, the Redskins had been outclassed by their division rivals 117-42 since the start of the second Philadelphia game.

We couldnt stop them on defense, couldnt get anything on offense and special teams wasnt helping either, cornerback Carlos Rogers said.

Making matters is worse than the defense lost Reed Doughty, Brian Orakpo, Rocky McIntosh and Phillip Daniels to injuries and were already without Kedric Golston and LaRon Landry.

Regardless, the Redskins kept plugging away, using a quick drive (four plays-71 yards) and a long drive (14-78) to get back in the game.

And when Grossman threw 17 yards to Cooley, the Redskins had a first down at their own 25, time (four-and-half minutes) and momentum. But Moss dropped his pass 26 yards down field, which was followed by sacks from Orlando Scandrick and Victor Butler, producing 17 lost yards and flipping the field position.

Dallas winning drive started at its own 48 with 3:11 remaining. The big plays were Jon Kitna completions of 9 yards to Sam Hurd and 12 yards to Miles Austin.

I was proud of how we responded when we were down 27-7, Fletcher said. It says a lot about our football team we have a lot of character and we could have very easily tucked our tails and say, Well get it next week.

The Redskins and Cowboys are tied for last in the division. Dallas remaining games are at Arizona and Philadelphia; the Redskins play at Jacksonville and host the Giants.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com