Dallas put their season hopes on the legs and heart of Marion Barber to get a huge win tonight in Washington, 14-10. Clinging to a four-point lead with just 6:46 left in the game after stopping the Redskins on a critical fourth down play, the Cowboys relied on their tough running back to close out the game as Barber rushed for 66 of his 114-yards on the final drive of the game.
The only pass Romo threw on the last drive was a short dump-off to Barber that he converted into a first down as Dallas was able to control the ball until Washington ran out of timeouts. They were then able to kneel down to run out the clock. The most crucial of runs Barber made was close to the end on a fourth-and-two play with just over a minute left on the clock when he dove for the first down to ice the game.
It was a tough and physical game throughout with the Redskins holding the Cowboys to a three-and-out on their first drive and then Jason Campbell taking his team on a short 49-yard touchdown drive for a 7-0 first quarter lead that would hold until late into the second quarter when Barber would tie the game on his two-yard lone touchdown run. But once again, Dallas’ kick return team came up short allowing the ensuing kickoff to be returned by Washington’s Rock Cartwright to the Dallas 38-yard line. Washington would convert it into a field goal just prior to the end of the half to go up 10-7 on the Cowboys.
Dallas’ defense would prove to be even tougher than the Redskins in the second half, keeping Washington from scoring and holding Portis to just 68-yards rushing, most of which came in the first half. They put good pressure on Jason Campbell the entire game getting three sacks, two by NT Jay Ratliff and one by DeMarcus Ware. Santana Moss was held in check for the better part of the night and Terrence Newman was able to come up with a second-half interception jumping the route in front of Moss to stop a good third-quarter Redskins drive. Unfortunately, Dallas was unable to score in the third quarter as well.
While Tony Romo and the offense experienced a frustrating first half due to two deep drives getting stopped by interceptions, he was able to put Dallas in the lead in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass to rookie TE Martellus Bennett to finally put Dallas in the lead, 14-10. Bennett made a spectacular catch over good coverage by Washington’s Chris Horton, and although it was his only catch of the night, it certainly was a huge one.
But as mentioned earlier, Marion Barber III, “Marion the Barbarian” as his teammates refer to him, was most definitely the MVP of this game for the Cowboys as he had his best game of the last four weeks rushing for 114-yards on 24 carries, almost half of it coming on the final drive of the game. Jason Witten showed signs of returning to his old Pro Bowl self, making just two receptions for 34-yards, but making several key blocks that sprung Barber on some key runs. Barber was also the leading receiver on the team with 6 catches for 39-yards, with the aforementioned catch and run for the first down late in the fourth quarter.
It certainly wasn’t the “breakout” win that most Cowboys fans wanted to see with the return of Romo, Kosier and others to the line-up, but it was positively the biggest win of the season to date, as it now puts them in a tie for second-place in the NFC East with two home games to follow against the 49?ers and Seahawks. While they may not look like strong playoff contenders at this point, they have at least kept themselves in position to become such a contender.