ARLINGTON, Texas -- It was Cole Beasley, not Dez Bryant, Jason Witten or most noticeably big-money receiver Miles Austin, who made all the plays during a crucial early fourth-quarter drive in the Cowboys' 31-16 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday night.
And Beasley, a playmaker for the SMU Mustangs and the Little Elm Lobos, was showered with praise by the three of the biggest voices that have a say in the Cowboys' offense -- the head coach, the quarterback and the All-Pro tight end. Beasley is making an impact as Dallas gains offensive weapons by the game with rookie Terrance Williams also stepping up.
Beasley had four catches for a team-high 43 yards on Sunday night with three of the receptions coming on a crucial drive early in the fourth quarter. Witten and Bryant caught two passes for 22 yards on the drive. Austin was shut out.
The Cowboys responded after a missed field goal by the Redskins to score three points of their own and take a 24-16 lead with 10:40 left in the game.
"He's been a guy who's really gotten away from his defender on a pretty consistent basis over the last few weeks and given the quarterback a place to throw it," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "Those are big plays. They look like little plays, but they're big plays in the ballgame that allow you to move the chains."
Beasley was targeted by Romo four times on the nine-play drive. Beasley had a 14-yard reception on a comeback route to put the Cowboys in Washington territory at the 47-yard line. Beasley produced another first down later in the drive on an up-and-out route to keep the Cowboys going at the Redskins' 16.
Then on third-and-20 at the Washington 26 after an offensive pass-interference call on Williams and an incomplete pass to Austin in the end zone, Beasley made Dan Bailey's field goal attempt more manageable when he gained 14 yards back on a short pass, eluding two Redskins defenders to get down to the Washington 12. Bailey made a 30-yard field goal for an eight-point lead.
"He's just a playmaker," Witten said of Beasley. "He does a great job. He understands those routes underneath and he's got great quickness. I thought he did a good job after he caught the ball making a couple of guys miss and getting some first downs for us. It's huge, especially with some injuries."
Beasley has 12 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in the last three games. He provides a security blanket for Tony Romo, who can avoid interceptions like the one late in the game in last week's 51-48 loss to Denver by having receivers he can trust to check down to when primary receivers can't get open or when the pressure from the pass rush comes.
"He can push, he can do different things," Romo said. "And that just allows us to have different packages for different people in different spots. He allows us to get down the field with him, and he does a good job in the quick passing game."