Redemption for Cowboys' defense

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Last Monday Jason Hatcher held his grade sheet from the 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos and made a promise to assistant defensive line coach Leon Lett.

"I owe you one, man," Hatcher said, shaking the paper. "I didn't like this."

Hatcher spoke for himself, but he could have spoken for the entire Dallas Cowboys defense.

On Sunday, Hatcher repaid the coaches and so did the rest of the defense in the Cowboys' 31-16 win against the Washington Redskins.

"I felt like I owed my coaches," Hatcher said. "I owed it to Coach Marinelli and Leon. They put so much into it and I let them down. I couldn't let that happen again. I had to redeem myself."

Hatcher had two sacks, giving him a career-high five on the season. He was credited with six tackles, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble. He did most of it with running mate DeMarcus Ware on the sidelines because of a quadriceps injury.

There was redemption for the whole defense, too.

After giving up 81 points in the previous two games, the Cowboys gave up just one touchdown to the Redskins. After seeing San Diego's Philip Rivers pass for 401 yards and Denver's Peyton Manning pass for 414 yards in back-to-back weeks, the Cowboys gave up just 246 yards to Robert Griffin III. After combining for one sack on Rivers and Manning, they managed to get Griffin on the ground three times.

A defense that had five takeaways in the season opener had only four in the last five games, but came up with two Sunday with a Kyle Wilber sack/fumble that was turned into the game-clinching touchdown and an Orlando Scandrick interception.

"I don't think we lost any confidence," Scandrick said. "We've just got to keep playing. We've got to find a way to win games. I've been around here for a long time and it's whatever it takes."

It wasn't perfect.

The Redskins still put up 433 yards, which showed improvement from the 506 yards the Chargers put up and the 517 yards the Broncos put up, but still way too much.

Washington converted on 8 of 16 third-down attempts and held the ball for 34 minutes, 32 seconds. The tight ends continued to give them issues with Jordan Reed catching four passes for 58 yards.

Washington ran for 216 yards on 33 carries, the eighth most the Cowboys have allowed in a win in franchise history. Griffin ran nine times for 77 yards. Alfred Morris had a 45-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that Scandrick lamented.

"They should've only scored nine points," Scandrick said. "I can't miss that tackle."

There was more progress than just making the Redskins punt (something that Denver didn't do last week). The Cowboys defense rallied in the red zone. Washington did not score a touchdown in three red zone trips. The Broncos had six in seven trips.

"As a defense we challenged ourselves," said cornerback Brandon Carr, who shadowed Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon. "We weren't satisfied with the last few performances. We felt like we could've made plays and left some on the field and didn't play to the best of our abilities. There was no more excuses. No more talking about it. Just go out and get the job done and have fun.

"Hopefully it was a glimpse of some good things to come."