Tomy Romo shrugged off a broken rib to move Dallas into position for six field-goals by rookie kicker Dan Bailey as the Cowboys edged archrivals Washington 18-16 in an NFL thriller on Monday.
Romo completed 22 of 36 passes for 255 yards, while Bailey matched an NFL rookie mark with a six-for-six kicking performance, the last of his field-goals a 40-yarder with 1 minute, 47 seconds remaining to produce the final margin.
Washington quarterback Rex Grossman drove the Redskins upfield, but he was hit from behind by Anthony Spencer and fumbled the ball. Dallas linebacker Sean Lee recovered to end the final threat and delight 91,000 fans at Cowboys Stadium.
Dallas and Washington matched the New York Giants atop the NFC East Division at 2-1. The Cowboys ensured they will not match last year’s miserable 1-7 start and kept the Redskins from joining unbeaten teams Buffalo, Detroit and Green Bay at 3-0.
Romo started at quarterback for the Cowboys despite suffering a broken rib and punctured lung three plays into a victory at San Francisco in the previous round of matches. The small hole in his lung has healed, but pain from the rib fracture nagged Romo.
“It’s a little hard because I took some shots,” Romo said. “The guys battled hard. This is a great win for us. It was a hard game.”
Romo was hit from behind and lost the ball midway through the fourth quarter, but the play was wiped out by a holding penalty on Washington’s O.J. Atogwe, a free safety from Canada, that gave Dallas a first down at the Redskins five-yard line.
Washington’s defenders, aided by a misfiring Dallas attack, kept the Cowboys out of the end zone, but Bailey rescued the drive with a 23-yard field-goal to pull Dallas within 16-15 with 6 minutes, 58 seconds remaining.
Poor timing with receivers and blockers nagged Romo all night.
“We made a million mistakes,” Romo said. “We are lucky to come out of here with the win as many mistakes as we made, but we will get it right.”
A scrambling Romo connected with Dez Bryant on a 30-yard pass play on a third-down-and-21 situation in the game’s pivotal play. Together with a 15-yard Washington penalty on the play, it set up Bailey’s winning field-goal.
“He has a good demeanor for a kicker,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan lamented being shut out in the fourth quarter.
“We had our opportunities to win and we didn’t take advantage of them,” Shanahan said. “The Cowboys found a way to get it done in the fourth quarter. You can go back and second-guess everything. They got the sack there. It happens.”
Bailey and Washington’s Graham Gano each kicked three field-goals in the first half for a 9-9 halftime deadlock. Gano connected from 27, 46 and 50 yards, while Bailey made kicks of 27, 32 and 41 yards.
The Redskins found the end zone four minutes into the second half on a one-yard pass from Grossman to Tim Hightower, although Bailey answered with another 41-yard field-goal to pull Dallas within 16-12 after three quarters.