But rather than move into range for a field goal that would have given them a 19-15 advantage, Washington had to punt. The Cowboys came back with yet another drive that ended in a field goal, putting them ahead by two.
Still, the Redskins had a glimmer of hope, getting the ball back with just less than two minutes left to play. But with his team facing second and 10 from its 43-yard line, Grossman rolled to his left to avoid the rush but was stripped of the ball by Dallas linebacker Anthony Spencer.
“It’s extremely disappointing. We moved the ball pretty decent,” said Grossman, who on the night completed 22 of 37 passes for 250 yards but in addition to the game-sealing fumble, also threw an interception. “We were backed up and we felt like were moving into good position with 48 seconds left, needed about 25 yards to put us in decent range, but couldn’t convert. We’ve got to swallow this one, regroup and get ready for St. Louis.”
The Cowboys recovered and ran out the clock to improve to 2-1 on the year while dropping the Redskins to the same record. Washington suffered its second straight loss to Dallas and dropped to 7-8 against its rival on “Monday Night Football.” With the defeat, the Redskins missed an opportunity to open the season 3-0 for the first time since 2005 and a chance to improve to 2-0 in the division.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to finish out a game,” said tight end Chris Cooley, who recorded four catches for 41 yards. “Offensively, we had a shot. We had the ball with seven minutes left, we had a couple first downs. We’ve got to say, ‘We’re going to win this game and win right now.’ ”
Cooley and the Redskins were outgained 375-298 even as Washington edged Dallas in first downs (20-17). But both teams managed only three successful third-down conversions, and Washington made good on only one of three trips inside the red zone.
“At the end of the day, you either find a way to win, or you don’t,” Shanahan said. “We had some opportunities to win and we didn’t take care of it. The Cowboys found a way to get it done.”
After an ugly first half that featured a total of six field goals by two struggling offenses, it was the Redskins that finally found the end zone in the third quarter.
Stringing together a nine-play, 76-yard drive, Washington took a 16-9 lead when Grossman completed a one-yard touchdown toss to running back Tim Hightower with four minutes left in the third. On that drive, Grossman was a perfect 4-for-4 passing, and Hightower ran the ball for gains of two, 25, six and five yards.