After fluky finish, Redskins ask, 'How in the world did we win?'

Updated: November 6, 2006, 7:58 PM ET
Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. -- The elation faded quickly, and reality took its place Monday in the nation's capital.

Amid all the joy over beating the biggest of rivals, there was one glaring fact no one could ignore: The truly bizarre had to happen for the Washington Redskins to end their three-game losing streak.

"People are talking about it: How in the world did the Washington Redskins win?" defensive tackle Joe Salave'a said. "I'm not too sure."

Even safety Troy Vincent, the latest unlikely hero in Redskins-Cowboys lore, said he stayed up late Sunday night thinking about "what we didn't do."

"I've been in the league 10 years. I've never been in one like that," added cornerback Shawn Springs. "We're living right, I guess you could say."

It's easy to list a half-dozen reasons why the Redskins had no business beating the Dallas Cowboys. Terrell Owens dropped a sure touchdown pass that would have put Washington in a 14-point hole late in the third quarter. Tight end Anthony Fasano fell down after catching a pass with no one close to him on Dallas' final drive.

The Cowboys self-destructed with 11 penalties for 153 yards, including a facemask call that allowed Nick Novak to kick the winning field goal. Coach Bill Parcells didn't use a replay challenge on a questionable safety, then cost his team a valuable point by going for a 2-point conversion far too early in the game. Novak missed his first chance to win the game, pushing a 49-yard attempt with 31 seconds to play.

The Redskins remained suspect on offense and defense. The defense, now ranked 30th, finally overtook Green Bay as the team that has allowed the most passing plays (35) of 20 yards or more. Dallas' Tony Romo became the latest quarterback to pile on the stats; opposing QBs have a league-high 102.4 rating against the Redskins. The offense benefited repeatedly from Cowboys penalties and produced only 102 yards in the second half.

Yet, in the final minute, the Redskins somehow pulled it out. Vincent blocked Mike Vanderjagt's 35-yard kick, and Sean Taylor returned it 30 yards. He had his facemask grabbed by Kyle Kosier, and because the game can't end on a defensive penalty, Novak made a 47-yarder with 0:00 on the clock to win 22-19.

When the kick went through, coach Joe Gibbs didn't look like a coach who had just won a football game. He looked tired and worn, his color drained from his face.

"That one was a little bit different than having fun," Gibbs said. "It wasn't like having a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter."

Dramatic finishes aside, Washington is still only 3-5, with back-to-back road games at Philadelphia and Tampa Bay next. The only consistent thing about the Redskins is that they have become the first team in NFL history to score exactly 22 points in three consecutive games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"We needed to get a spark," Salave'a said, "and hopefully that'll springboard us in the right direction."

Receiver Santana Moss missed the game with a hamstring injury, and his status is uncertain for Philadelphia. Gibbs said Moss had "some blood at the bottom of his hamstring" that needs to clear. "You can't rush that back," Gibbs said. "But I'm going to hope he's ready for this week."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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