LANDOVER, Md. - Barry Cofield aptly described the feeling in the Washington Redskins locker room following their 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, one that stretched his team's losing streak to six.
"This [loss] hurts a lot more," the defensive tackle said. "You lose in overtime, you lose to a hated rival, [so] it hurts more."
Indeed, the Redskins fought hard, but were still bested by their bitter rivals in the game's final moments.
"I thought we played extremely hard," head coach Mike Shanahan said. "I thought we kept our poise and I was just disappointed we didn't get the job done."
Coming into the game, the Redskins offense could only be described as non-existent. From breakdowns to penalties to turnovers, they were unable to points on the scoreboard and put immense pressure on their defense.
In the first quarter, the Redskins offensive ineptitude reared its ugly head yet again as a fumble by tight end Fred Davis was recovered by the Cowboys inside Washington territory. Dallas made the Redskins pay for the early mistake when Tony Romo hit Dez Bryant on a 22-yard pass for a score, giving the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead. It was looking like déjà vu all over again as the seven point deficit seems like a mountainous climb for one of the league's worst offenses.
But the Redskins found a way to answer.
After a shanked Dallas punt that put the ball inside Cowboys territory, the Redskins were finally able to cross the goal line. They did so thanks in part to an unorthodox playcall by Kyle Shanahan, who had Grossman run a designed quarterback draw up the middle to end Washington's scoring drought, cutting the Dallas lead to 10-7.
And as rare a feat as it sounds, Washington wasn't done there. They scored another first half touchdown when Grossman hit Jabar Gaffney to give the Redskins a 14-10 lead going into halftime. It was their first lead they have had on an opponent since their October 2 win over the St. Louis Rams.
"We didn't panic," Shanahan said of his team rebounding from the early deficit.
"Sometimes football can have a lot of momentum to it," Grossman said. "I don't know why. One good play kind of leads itself to another one. We got on a roll."
But after a third quarter whose only score was a Graham Gano 40-yard field goal, momentum shifted in the other direction.
In the fourth quarter, after a missed 49-yard field goal attempt by Gano, Dallas was able to counter with a 14-play, 61-yard scoring drive that ended with a Laurent Robinson touchdown grab courtesy of Romo, tying the game at 17.
Dallas wasn't done, delivering what looked to be a dagger as Tony Romo was able to elude pressure and find a wide open Jason Witten, who then streaked down the left sideline and into the endzone for a 59 yard score, giving the Cowboys a 24-17.
"That's Romo," said a dejected Brian Orakpo. "He's like a snake. You got to know where your rushing. He's slippery, he's all over the place."
In the game's waning moments, the Redskins offense was able to respond by driving 89 yards on 12 plays in just over five minutes a series that concluded with an impressive toe-tap touchdown by Donte Stallworth to send the game to overtime.
"It's kind of a situation where I could throw [the ball] to anybody," Grossman said of the play. "I liked the leverage that Donte had and I tried to put it in the back of the end zone where only he could get it. He made a great catch."
It'd be the last play that the Redskins faithful could cheer about in this game.
Washington had a chance to end the game on their first drive of overtime, but it wasn't to be as a 52-yard attempt by Gano sailed wide right, giving the Cowboys good field to set up a winning kick of their own.
And they did just that when Dan Bailey barely snuck it inside the right upright from 39 yards out to end the game. Though the Redskins had played one of their better games, it wasn't enough.
"It stings more because as a player you understand how much our owner wants to win this game," Grossman said. "We understand how much fans want to win this game."
"We tried our [butts] off and I'm proud of every single player and every teammate. [We] just came up a little short."
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