Redskins vs. Cowboys: Rex Grossman leads rally, but Washington falls, 33-30

With Grossman replacing McNabb at quarterback, the Redskins fight back to tie Dallas in the fourth quarter but lose to a Cowboys field goal.
By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 20, 2010; 12:13 AM

ARLINGTON, TEX. - Directed by new starting quarterback Rex Grossman, the Washington Redskins showed significant improvement on offense but continued their season-ending slide Sunday in a 33-30 loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium.

Grossman matched his career high with four touchdown passes while helping the Redskins overcome a 20-point third-quarter deficit before they eventually fell short again in their fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games.

"I thought Rex did an excellent job today," said Coach Mike Shanahan, who came under fire from the media and fans this season for his handling of the McNabb-Grossman situation. "I wanted to give him an opportunity. I thought he took advantage of that opportunity."

Officially promoted over benched six-time Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb Thursday, Grossman impressed in his first start since the 2008 season, leading the Redskins to touchdowns on three consecutive drives in the third and fourth quarters. Grossman capped each with touchdown passes (two to top wide receiver Santana Moss and one to tight end Chris Cooley), and also completed consecutive two-point conversion passes after the fourth-quarter touchdowns. The second tied the score at 30 with 7 minutes 37 seconds remaining in the game.

Playing before a crowd of 86,904, Dallas eventually got it together again.

The Cowboys' defense, which Grossman torched after halftime, forced the Redskins to punt on their next possession. The Cowboys got the ball back with 3:11 to play and quarterback Jon Kitna led them into field goal position.

Place kicker David Buehler hit a 39-yarder with 50 seconds remaining. On the game's final possession, Grossman moved the Redskins from their 20-yard line to the 47 - where his good day ended badly. Dallas cornerback Terence Newman intercepted Grossman's pass at the Cowboys 47 and ran out the clock.

The Redskins (5-9) have only one victory in the second half of their schedule and dropped into a last-place tie with the Cowboys (5-9) in the NFC East. The Redskins' last-ranked defense again failed often, giving up 434 total net yards.

"Just wasn't very good again," outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "Obviously, we're still not clicking."

Though McNabb does not deserve all the blame for the team's problems scoring, the rhythmic quality of Shanahan's quarterback-friendly offense finally took form with Grossman at the controls.

In announcing his controversial decision to turn to the journeyman Grossman over McNabb - one of the NFL's most-accomplished active signal-callers - Shanahan cited his desire to evaluate the Redskins' quarterback position. Many Redskins observers Sunday saw what Shanahan said he already knew about Grossman's potential to operate Washington's scheme.

Shanahan was not surprised about Grossman's production (322 yards, four touchdowns and a 93.4 passer rating) because "we've been practicing quite a bit, all the way through OTA [organized team activities] days, so it's not like he's not familiar with the offense or what we've been doing. It's been a little tough because he hasn't had a lot of reps with what we've been doing, but I thought he handled himself quite well today. . . . He played with a lot of poise."

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