The question heading into Monday night’s Cowboys-Redskins matchup in Dallas was if Tony Romo’s ribs were going to hold up enough for the QB to play.
Consider the question a resounding yes.
Romo’s ribs were fine, as was the leg of kicker Dan Bailey, as the Cowboys gutted out a tough 18-16 win over the previously undefeated Skins to move to 2-1 on the year. The Skins drop to 2-1 with the loss.
Bailey was the hero with six field goals, including a 40-yarder with 1:57 left to give the Cowboys the victory over their rivals.
Dallas’ Anthony Spencer chopped the ball from Washington’s Rex Grossman with 28 seconds left, and linebacker Sean Lee recovered it, setting off a celebration inside Cowboys Stadium.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett dropped to a knee and pumped his fist wildly at being 2-1 — guaranteeing no repeat of last year’s miserable 1-7 start. The Cowboys are even tied for first place in the NFC East, along with Washington (2-1), which was seeking its first 3-0 start since 2005.
“This was a great win for us,” said Romo, who was 22 of 36 for 255 yards. “It was a hard, hard game. … We had a million mistakes tonight. We have a lot of young guys, but they were out there for a reason. We’ll get it right.”
Romo lacked zip and accuracy much of the game, and he had trouble with four snaps from his new center. But he was at his best with the game on the line.
He hit Laurent Robinson for a 25-yard gain to set up Bailey’s fifth field goal. He then set up the winner on third-and-21 with a scrambling 30-yarder to Dez Bryant that happened to come against cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who last week said he was hoping “to put my helmet on whatever’s hurt.”
The Romo-Bailey combination has worked like a charm for two straight games. Against San Francisco a week ago Sunday, Bailey made a tying field goal at the end of regulation, then the winner in overtime.
Bailey is an undrafted rookie who was named the nation’s top kicker in college last season, at Oklahoma State. His other kicks Monday night covered 41 (twice), 32, 27 and 23 yards.
The big story, though, was Romo and the other Dallas players who played through pain, such as Bryant, who missed the previous game with a thigh injury, and Felix Jones, who separated a shoulder against the 49ers but ran for a career-high 115 yards and caught three passes for 40 more.
Romo was was sacked once and threw an interception that was more like a punt on a play foiled by one of several bad snaps from Phil Costa. Two shot toward Romo when he wasn’t ready for them, two others were quite off-target.
“We’re going to get that fixed,” Romo said. “It can’t happen.”
Grossman kept Washington playing with a lead for much of the game, but couldn’t put it away.
He was 22 of 37 for 250 yards with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower. He was sacked three times, and threw an interception.
Most of the Redskins’ points came from Graham Gano, who made field goals of 50, 46 and 27 yards. Another was blocked after a poor hold.