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You really can’t find a football play with a wilder swing of emotion than the final play of the Redskins-Cowboys game Sunday night. Dallas went from the joy of having just pulled off a last-second miracle victory, to sadness when they realized the TD didn’t count because of an Alex Barron hold… all in the span of about three seconds: Here’s the video:
The Dallas Cowboys never stopped collecting penalties throughout the season opener at FedEx Field on Sunday night, and it ended up costing them the game.
The Cowboys put together a 10-play drive in the last 1:50 of the game following Graham Gano’s second field goal. Tony Romo conducted a methodical drive that covered 58 yards and got the Cowboys inside the red zone.
But another penalty, the Cowboys’ 12th of the game, came at the worst time. Dallas tackle Alex Barron, filling in for injured Marc Columbo, wrapped up Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo at the same time Romo was completing a game-tying touchdown pass to wide-open Roy Williams.
(Screen shot from NBC, which broadcast the Sunday Night Football opener)
As the flags flew, so did the whistles, and the game ended with the Redskins ahead 13-7.
"A few penalties in there were dictated by the crowd right there at the end," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said after the game as he complemented the fans; announced attendance at FedEx Field was 90,670, the biggest opening-day crown in team history. "That was a big advantage there."
The Washington Redskins went in to grinding-out-the-clock mode as the two-minute warning drew near, but they got just far enough down the field to get kicker Graham Gano in field goal range — and give holder Josh Bidwell a chance to make amends.
Bidwell’s hold this time was sound, and Gano’s kick had just enough to make it through and give the Redskins a 13-7 lead. It capped a 10-play, 46-yard drive that chewed up 4:26 on the clock.
Dallas Coach Wade Phillips (and perhaps worse for him, owner Jerry Jones) will be hearing "Flag on the play" in his sleep tonight.
After starting a drive at its 18, Dallas started racking up more penalties:
- Illegal block in the back by Martellus Bennett negated a 12-yard Miles Austin gain.
- Holding on Alex Barron negated a third-down pass to Jason Witten that would have gone for a first down.
- And then a false start penalty stalled the next play before it started.
It left Dallas with a third-and-26 from their own 29; this during a drive that featured them twice getting over the 50. After a short pass to Witten, Dallas punted.
With about 10 minutes remaining in the game, down 10-7, Dallas had collected 10 penalties for 76 yards. And things like that really make a difference in a close game such as this one.
Redskins punter Josh Bidwell’s bad night just got a lot worse.
On the drive after he bobbled the snap on a field goal attempt, Bidwell shanked a punt that went all of 27 yards to the Redskins’ own 34.
It set the Cowboys up with a short field, and they took advantage. They needed only six plays to finally get in the end zone, with Miles Austin hauling in a 4-yard pass from Tony Romo. The extra point made it Redskins 10, Cowboys 7.
Suddenly, with less than two minutes left in the third quarter, momentum has seemingly shifted again, this time in the Cowboys’ favor.
The Redskins, who struggled to move the ball during the first half, had some momentum at the start of the second. Washington quarterback Donovan McNabb completed long passes to both Santana Moss and Chris Cooley to get over the 50.
Then Washington literally took points off the board. Graham Gano hit a 26-yard field goal that was nullified by a penalty, and Washington had a first down at the Dallas 12. Then, a Dallas penalty nullified a Terrence Newman interception, and Washington had another first down at the Dallas 5. But McNabb threw three incompletions, including consecutive fade attempts to the left to Anthony Armstrong. And then punter Josh Bidwell, holding for a 22-yard field goal attempt, couldn’t handle the snap and fell on the ball, ending the drive and turning the ball over to Dallas.
All that added up to nothing for either team, as Dallas answered with a march over midfield of its own, only to punt deep into Redskins territory four plays later.
Talk about a sudden turn(over) of events.
Heading into the half during a game that had featured only a field goal by Redskins kicker Graham Gano, Dallas paid a steep price for another mistake.
The Cowboys' third running back, Tashard Choice, had just caught a fluttering shuffle pass from quarterback Tony Romo, and was near the sideline when DeAngelo Hall hit him, stripped the ball and sprinted for the end zone, hands raised. The ensuing extra point was the last play of the half, and Washington went into the locker room with a 10-0 lead.
It brought sudden life to a game that had slipped into an exchange of punts (three by each team) and penalties (two for Washington but five for Dallas, for 41 yards).
When all you get in the first period is a field goal, it's time to turn to the sidelines, which on this night at FedEx Field are being roamed by the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., a noted Redskins fan, and LeBron James, who apparently is a Dallas Cowboys fan.
That's an Associate Press photo of LeBron taking camera phone shots during the pregame festivities.
And yes, you read that right earlier -- LeBron James is a Dallas Cowboys fan, not a Cleveland Browns fan. Nor is he a Miami Dolphins fan.
Speaking of Cleveland, he was sure to make another joke at the city's expense, since the Cavaliers' team colors are somewhat similar to the burgundy and gold outfits the Redskins are wearing this evening.
Mike Shanahan's new-look Washington Redskins offense scored on its first possession of the 2010 season, as Donovan McNabb used his arm and his feet to keep the drive alive before eventually settling for a Graham Gano field goal.
For a moment, it looked as if Dallas would score first. The Cowboys started with good field position at their own 27 and moved the ball well, mixing Marion Barber runs with two long passes from quarterback Tony Romo to Miles Austin and Martellus Bennett. However, consecutive short passes to the right side to rookie Dez Bryant effectively killed the drive before DeAngelo Hall swatted away a third-down pass, forcing a punt.
The Redskins seemed destined for an even shorter drive before McNabb hit Santana Moss over the middle on third down to keep the drive alive -- aided by a roughing the passer penalty on Dallas. On the next third down, McNabb showed some of his vintage scrambling ability, tuckijng the ball and running left for a 17-yard gain, wisely scooting out of bounds instead of absorbing a hit.Two plays later, he hit tight end Chris Cooley out of the backfield foe a 14-yard gain to the Dallas 13. Three plays later Washington settled for the field goal.
The Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys just released their official list of inactives for their opener on Sunday Night Football.
QB John Beck (who will serve as the third quarterback)
WR/KR Brandon Banks
S Kareem Moore
LB Perry Riley
OL Will Montgomery
DT Anthony Bryant
TE Logan Paulsen
DE Jeremy Jarmon
No real surprises on the Redskins' list, unless you somehow still thought Coach Mike Shanahan was going to bench Albert Haynesworth.
Dallas, meanwhile, will take the field without:
QB Stephen McGee (who sill serve as the third quarterback
S Barry Church
LB Leon Williams
LB Brandon Williams
G Kyle Kosier
T Marc Columbo
T Sam Young
DE Sean Lissemore
The double-whammy for the Cowboys comes on the offensive line, as Kosier and Columbo are starters. Alex Barron will start at right tackle in place of Columbo, and Montrae Holland will start at left guard in place of Kosier.
We're about two hours away from the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys kicking off at FedEx Field for the first Sunday Night Football game of the season.
The biggest news of the day, so far, as it relates to this game and the season: The Redskins are going to wear Gold pants with red and white stripes down the side. The assumption at this point is that they'll be sporting burgundy jerseys to match. (Our friend Dan went to the trouble of heading down to the field to snap a few photos of Redskins center Casey Rabach sporting the gold pants).
With that suspense out of the way, here are a few more relevant story lines to keep an eye on once the offenses and defenses take the field.
1) Albert Haynesworth's role.The defensive tackle's status was typically hard to read this week, from early reports having him on the scout team to later stories placing him with the starters. We at least know the former All-Pro will play for the Redskins tonight; the questions that remain are (a) How much? (b) With which unit? and (c) at which position? Playing him is a no-brainer, no matter how strained the relationship is between Haynesworth and Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. As for how much and with which unit, the best bet is that he doesn't take the field with the starters but will rotate in and out a fair amount. As for which spot -- defensive end or nose tackle -- he hasn't spent as much time practicing at end since the third preseason game, so it looks like Haynesworth will be doing his work from inside.
2) The injured Cowboys line. Dallas will take the field missing two starting offensive lineman -- Marc Columbo and Kyle Kosier -- not to mention the departed Flozell Adams. In their place, Dallas will go with veterans Montrae Holland inside and Alex Barron at left tackle. Will that be good enough against a Redskins defense going into its first real game playing in the 3-4? Washington will bring Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo off the edge; that duo had 11 sacks each last season. Up the middle, Dallas will face the aforementioned Haynesworth and the new nosetackle, Ma'ake Kemoeatu.
3) The return of Donovan McNabb. The new Redskins quarterback hasn't taken the field since the second preseason game against Baltimore, when he sprained an ankle. There was little doubt he'd play the season opener -- the team essentially saved him for the games that count once he got injured. But now he'll be trying to shake off rust while also working himself back into what's still a new offense with new personnel.
Stay tuned to SSBNation.com as we'll be making StoryStream updates here throughout the first Sunday night game of the season.