DeSean Jackson tried to be a hero in the midst of what had been a dismal edition of Monday Night Football and almost gave it the ending it deserved. With under a 1:30 remaining in the game, he tried to reverse field deep in his own territory on a punt return and then fumbled as he was being tackled. The Cowboys scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown to go up 16-9 with a little more than a minute left.
Then things really got crazy
Jackson redeemed himself with a 28-yard touchdown pass on a beautiful pass from Kirk Cousins, tying the game with 30 seconds to go. The Cowboys took the ball and promptly went 20 yards to line up Dan Bailey for a 54-yard field goal after a good kickoff return. He hit with three seconds remaining to win the game for Dallas, 19-16. Seventeen of the 35 total points were scored in the final minute and 14 seconds.
Until the finish, the theme of Monday's game was sputtering offense. Both teams stopped themselves in a myriad ways. Worst was an inability convert third-and-1. Washington got stuffed once and Dallas twice, the second time at Washington's 1-yard line. The Cowboys had to settle for field goals on those two drives as a result. On the night, the two teams were a combined 7-of-25 on third downs.
Dallas and Washington also combined for 10 punts. The Cowboys complemented theirs by turning the ball over three times, all on fumbles, to extend their league-worst turnover margin to minus-15 on the season. The two teams also combined for 16 fouls for 144 yards in penalties.
The standouts were the kickers, Bailey and Dustin Hopkins -- a combined 7-for-8 on the night -- and the defensive fronts. The Cowboys managed just 97 yards on the ground. Washington had 73 rushing yards and Cousins took three sacks.
There is now a three-way tie atop the NFC East with Washington, New York and Philadelphia all 5-7 and Dallas close behind at 4-8. Someone has to win this division, but after Monday's game it's difficult to tell if anyone is even trying anymore.
Three things we learned
1) ESPN may have solved Washington's team name controversy
On accident of course:
It's better than their current name, at least.
2) Holy crap, someone is actually going to win the NFC East
This was an ugly game from start to finish, which is fitting of the division itself. Washington, New York, Dallas and Philadelphia have all passed a baton of ineptitude throughout the season, each dealing with quarterback problems, coaching mistakes and defensive breakdowns in some combination.
With three teams at 5-7, it seems likely that the winner of the division will finish with a losing record. There are plenty of key games left -- Washington and Dallas play again in Week 17, Washington and Philadelphia play in Week 16 and New York and Philadelphia also play in Week 17. The division is competitive as always, but whether you can palate another NFC East showdown is another question altogether.
3) Get well, Tony Romo
Your team needs you. Your division needs you. Humanity needs you. We gave you crap for a long time. Only recently, we've realized you're so much better than anyone gave you credit for. Networks will never stop putting your team on primetime so please come back stronger than ever next season and save us from these games.