Here are four takeaways from the Redskins’ 20-17 win over the Cowboys:

Redskins’ defense dominates for 55 minutes: With the exception of Greg Stroman biting on a double-move that resulted in a 49-yard touchdown pass to Michael Gallup in the first half, Greg Manusky’s unit made life miserable for the Cowboys until the late stages of the game. Ezekiel Elliott, who averaged 110 yards rushing in three previous games against Washington, was routinely met in the backfield and limited to a season-low 33 yards on 15 carries. The Redskins also forced a pair of turnovers, including a Ryan Kerrigan strip-sack of Dak Prescott at the goal line that Preston Smith turned into a scoop-and-score with 4:55 remaining.

It appeared that defensive touchdown, which gave Washington a 20-10 lead, would seal the win, but the Cowboys made things interesting. Like the Panthers last week, Dallas was in position to win the game or force overtime in the final seconds, but the Redskins defense did just enough — and benefited from a false start on the Cowboys’ long-snapper — to hang on for the win. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but make no mistake, this Washington defense was both on Sunday.

Washington’s offense remains a problem: Alex Smith struggled yet again, completing 14 of 25 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. While he didn’t commit a turnover, Smith was inaccurate throughout the game, including on a rollout that should’ve resulted in a touchdown pass to a wide open Jeremy Sprinkle in the third quarter. Smith also made a mistake on Washington’s final drive by running out of bounds on a third-down scramble, allowing Dallas to preserve its third and final timeout.

The Redskins dominated the field position battle, with five of Tress Way’s punts being down inside the 20-yard line. Washington’s offense benefited from excellent field position on multiple occasions and crossed midfield on six of its first eight possessions, but failed to finish drives and managed only 13 points.

Adrian Peterson and Kapri Bibbs make plays: With Smith struggling and Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson Jr. and Chris Thompson all inactive with injuries, Peterson and Bibbs were the extent of Washington’s offense for much of the game. Peterson rushed for 99 yards on 24 carries, marking the first time this season he’s rushed for more than 20 yards following a Redskins win. Bibbs, who struggled while filling in for Thompson last week, redeemed himself against the Cowboys by catching a 23-yard screen pass for a touchdown in the first quarter. Bibbs finished with four catches for 43 yards (both team-highs), including a key third-down conversion in the fourth quarter that allowed the Redskins to burn some clock while nursing a three-point lead.

All alone in first place: Sunday’s win snapped Washington’s four-game losing streak against the Cowboys and was the Redskins’ first victory over Dallas at FedEx Field since the final week of the 2012 regular season. Washington improved to 2-7 in its last nine games following a win, has won back-to-back games for the first time this season and is all alone in first place in the NFC East with a 4-2 record. The Panthers did the Redskins a favor earlier in the day by completing a 17-point comeback to knock off the Eagles. This marks the first time since 2000 that Washington will head into Week 8 atop the division.

Final: Redskins 20, Cowboys 17

Live updates and analysis

4th Quarter

Doink! Redskins survive when last-second field goal hits the goal post: The Cowboys drove into field goal range on their final drive thanks to three catches by Cole Beasley. With three seconds remaining, Brett Maher lined up to attempt a 47-yard field goal to tie the game, but Dallas was penalized five yards for a snap infraction on long snapper Louis-Philippe Ladouceur. Maher’s ensuing attempt from 52 yards bounced off the left upright, preserving Washington’s win. (Redskins 20, Cowboys 17, End of Game)

Dallas gets the ball back: The Redskins’ last drive: Two Adrian Peterson runs for one yard and an Alex Smith scramble for six yards. Smith was tackled out of bounds, a mistake that allowed the Cowboys to preserve their final timeout. Dallas began its final drive from its own 36-yard line. (Redskins 20, Cowboys 17, 1:09 4th Quarter)

With all three timeouts, Dallas kicks the ball away: One first down would seal the win for Washington. Otherwise, Dallas should get the ball back with about 1:20 remaining and needing only a field goal to tie. (Redskins 20, Cowboys 17, 1:37 4th Quarter)

Cowboys cut the Redskins’ lead to 20-17 with 1:37 to play: Dak Prescott capped Dallas’s nine-play drive with a one-yard dive across the goal line to cut Washington’s lead to three. (Redskins 20, Cowboys 17, 1:37 4th Quarter)

Dallas driving with two minutes remaining: The Cowboys won’t go quietly. Out of the two-minute warning, Dallas will have first-and-10 from the Washington 11-yard line. With the Redskins’ secondary to avoid giving up a big play, Dak Prescott has picked up huge chunks of yards on the drive with his legs. The Cowboys still have all three of their timeouts, but they’re running low on time. (Redskins 20, Cowboys 10, 2:00 4th Quarter)

Defensive touchdown gives Washington 20-10 lead: Tired of waiting for the offense to put this game away, the Redskins’ defense took matters into its own hands. With Dallas facing third-and-14 from deep in its own territory after a holding call wiped out a 16-yard completion to Cole Beasley, Ryan Kerrigan stripped Dak Prescott at the goal line. Preston Smith picked up the loose ball and walked into the end zone to give Washington a two-score lead for the first time all game. (Redskins 20, Cowboys 10, 4:55 4th Quarter)

Washington burns some clock before punting the ball away: Demarcus Lawrence and Sean Lee combined to bring down Kapri Bibbs on third-and-short, forcing a Tress Way punt. Earlier in the drive, Bibbs picked up a key third down with an 10-yard reception in the flat. All five of Way’s punts in the game have been downed inside the 20. (Redskins 13, Cowboys 10, 6:18 4th Quarter)

Cowboys get a field goal to pull within 13-10: After managing only four yards on six plays in the third quarter, the Cowboys drove 46 yards on six plays on their first possession of the fourth quarter. The drive ended with a 47-yard field goal by Brett Maher after Dak Prescott tripped over his own lineman in the backfield and was brought down by Ryan Anderson on third down. (Redskins 13, Cowboys 10, 9:46 4th Quarter)

Redskins extend lead to 13-7 early in the fourth quarter: Alex Smith overthrew Jordan Reed in the end zone on third-and-goal and the Redskins settled for a 25-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins to extend their lead to six. (Redskins 13, Cowboys 7, 12:36 4th Quarter)

Redskins are on the move: Washington will face second-and-six from the Dallas 29-yard line when the fourth quarter begins. Adrian Peterson is up to 76 yards on 18 carries, which is by far his best performance following a Redskins win this season. Dallas was limited to four total yards in the third quarter. (Redskins 10, Cowboys 7, Start of the 4th Quarter)

3rd Quarter

Washington’s defense does its job: Two plays after Ryan Kerrigan’s sack backed the Cowboys up to their own 5-yard line, Dak Prescott’s third-down pass intended for Allen Hurns was broken up. Greg Stroman returned Chris Jones’ ensuing punt to the Washington 49-yard line. Can the Redskins’ offense finally reward the defense for its dominating performance? Meanwhile, Ryan Kerrigan is being evaluated for a chest injury. (Redskins 10, Cowboys 7, 2:23 3rd Quarter)

Redskins’ offense continues to struggle: The Redskins moved the chains with a 15-yard completion to Josh Doctson, but were forced to punt after a David Irving sack forced them into a third-and-long and Kapri Bibbs was pushed out of bounds a yard short of the sticks on the next play. Washington continues to dominate the field position battle and the Cowboys’ drive will begin at their own 11-yard line. (Redskins 10, Cowboys 7, 4:06 3rd Quarter)

Cowboys go three-and-out: Ezekiel Elliott six-yard run on first down was his longest of the game, but that’s all Dallas would get on its first drive of the second half. Elliott was stopped for no gain on second down and pressure on the edge from Preston Smith helped force an incompletion on third down followed by yet another Cowboys punt. (Redskins 10, Cowboys 7, 7:34 3rd Quarter)

Washington takes a 10-7 lead on first drive of the second half: The Redskins regained the lead on their opening possession of the third quarter with a 10-play, 72-yard drive that should’ve resulted in a touchdown. Adrian Peterson had four carries for 35 yards on the march and Jordan Reed’s 26-yard reception on third down gave Washington a first-and-goal from the Cowboys’ 9. On the next play, a designed rollout, Alex Smith couldn’t connect with a wide open Jeremy Sprinkle in the end zone. Demarcus Lawrence stuffed Peterson for a loss of two on third-and-goal from the Cowboys’ 1, and Washington settled for a short Dustin Hopkins field goal. (Redskins 10, Cowboys 7, 9:10 3rd Quarter)

Redskins open the second half with the ball: Redskins Coach Jay Gruden told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson he’d like to see his offense take more shots down the field and mix in more play-action in the second half. CBS play-by-play man Jim Nantz informed viewers that the Redskins haven’t scored a third-quarter touchdown in their last 10 games and Washington’s 24 points in the second half through five games are the second-fewest in the league.

Halftime: Redskins 7, Cowboys 7

Defense ruled the first half in Landover. Alex Smith is 7 for 15 for 87 yards for the Redskins, while Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has been limited to 13 yards rushing on 10 carries.

2nd Quarter

Redskins’ final drive of the half fails to produce points: With all three of their timeouts, the Redskins looked to steal at least a field goal before halftime. A 20-yard completion to Michael Floyd gave Washington a first-and-10 at the Dallas 44-yard line with 21 seconds remaining, but Alex Smith misfired on his next three attempts, including a third-down pass that was just beyond the reach of a diving Josh Doctson near the goal line. A neutral zone infraction moved Washington five yards closer on fourth down, but rather than attempt a 56-yard field goal into a stiff wind, Smith heaved a Hail Mary into the end zone that went right through Floyd’s hands and fell incomplete. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 7, End of 2nd Quarter)

Cowboys tie the game just before halftime: Dallas wide receiver Michael Gallup burned Redskins cornerback Greg Stroman with a double-move and found himself wiiiide open down the left sideline late in the first half. Dak Prescott didn’t miss him, hitting the rookie in stride for a 49-yard touchdown, the first of Gallup’s career. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 7, 1:00 2nd Quarter)

Redskins avoid a turnover before punting the ball away: Out of a timeout, Washington faced third-and-eight from its own 47-yard line. Alex Smith wasn’t ready for the snap, but he managed to fall on the ball for a three-yard loss after it bounced off his left shoulder. Tress Way’s ensuing punt pinned Dallas inside its 20-yard line for the third time in the game. If you like offense, this first half has been tough to watch, as the teams have combined for 211 total yards. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 3:46 2nd Quarter)

Another Dallas drive stalls: The Cowboys managed a couple of first downs on their latest drive, including one on a third-down scramble by Dak Prescott, who dove headfirst to cross the line to gain. A pass breakup by Josh Norman a penalty for an illegal chop block and a third-down sack by Jonathan Allen led to the Cowboys’ third punt of the game. Ezekiel Elliott has been limited to eight yards rushing on eight carries, while Prescott is 8 for 11 for 71 yards through the air. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 6:27 2nd Quarter)

Redskins punt again: A 16-yard run by Adrian Peterson on the first play of Washington’s third drive put the Redskins in Dallas territory, but Washington punted three plays later. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 11:42 2nd Quarter)

Dak Prescott cleared to return: CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson reports that Prescott has cleared the concussion protocol and will return to the game. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 12:43 2nd Quarter)

1st Quarter

Dak Prescott takes a huge hit: On third-and-six from the Dallas 42-yard line, Dak Prescott scrambled to his left and dove for the first-down marker. The Cowboys’ quarterback was stopped a yard short and took a shoulder from Redskins cornerback Greg Stroman directly to his face mask. “That’s a concussion,” CBS analyst and former Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. “He’s going to be done. He doesn’t know where he is.” Prescott was taken into the tent on the Dallas sideline for further evaluation. It remains to be seen if he is, in fact, done for the game. Cooper Rush is the Cowboys’ backup quarterback. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 1:11 1st Quarter)

Tress Way pins the Cowboys deep: Washington failed to capitalize on the Cowboys’ turnover. An offensive pass interference penalty on Josh Doctson derailed the Redskins’ second drive, and after Maurice Harris picked up 10 yards on third-and-17, Jay Gruden elected to punt from the Dallas 42. Cole Beasley made a fair catch at his own 15-yard line. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 5:51 1st Quarter)

Redskins’ defense comes up big on fourth down: Washington’s ball-hawking defense continues to make plays. Facing fourth-and-one from the Dallas 45-yard line, Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett left his offense on the field and called a QB sneak. D.J. Swearinger met Dak Prescott at the line of scrimmage and ripped the ball from his grasp, giving the Redskins their first turnover of the game after Greg Manusky’s defense forced three turnovers last week. The lost fumble was Prescott’s first turnover in five career games against Washington. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 7:21 1st Quarter)

Kapri Bibbs gives Redskins the early lead: A 33-yard punt by Chris Jones gave the Redskins excellent field position on their first possession and they took advantage. After four carries by Adrian Peterson and a 12-yard completion to Josh Doctson moved Washington deep into Dallas territory, Alex Smith and Kapri Bibbs hooked up for a 23-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Brandon Scherff had the key block to spring Bibbs and Cowboys safety Kavon Frazier whiffed on a would-be-tackle near the line of scrimmage. It’s the first time Dallas has allowed a touchdown on the opening drive in 12 games. (Redskins 7, Cowboys 0, 10:19 1st Quarter)

Cowboys go three-and-out to start the game: The Redskins won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving Dallas the ball first. After a holding penalty on Tyron Smith negated a 22-yard run by Dak Prescott on second down, Prescott overthrew Brice Butler deep down the left sideline. D.J. Swearinger nearly made an incredible, tumbling interception on the play, but he was ruled out of bounds and the Cowboys were forced to punt. (Redskins 0, Cowboys 0, 13:32 1st Quarter)


The Redskins got some good news before kickoff, as Carolina erased a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Eagles, 21-17. Philadelphia falls to 3-4, so the winner of Washington-Dallas will be all alone in first place in the NFC East.

Redskins quarterback Alex Smith will be without three of his favorite targets, as Chris Thompson, Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder are all inactive. Cornerback Quinton Dunbar is also out, while guard Shawn Lauvao is active for the first time since Week 2.

There’s a noticeable absence in the FedEx Field press box after longtime Redskins reporter Rich Tandler passed away earlier this week. Flowers and a photo were placed in Tandler’s usual spot, which will remain empty forever. The team also paid tribute to Tandler with a moment of silence before kickoff.

Josh Norman, who is coming off one of his best performances with Washington, appears confident heading into the Redskins’ first divisional game of the season. The cornerback arrived at FedEx Field in a Bobby Boucher jersey to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of “The Waterboy.”

Postgame reading: