Redskins hang on to beat Cowboys, back in the mix in the NFC East

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com
The Redskins' season continues after hanging on to beat the Cowboys. (AP)

And so ends the Cowboys season. With a chance to make a move on the stumbling Giants, and playing at home on Thanksgiving Day where quarterback Tony Romo was undefeated, Dallas didn't show up for their biggest game of the season until things were well out of hand. When it was over, the Redskins left the Jerry Dome 38-31 winners and right back in the mix in the NFC East.

The Redskins, three weeks removed from coach Mike Shanahan announcing that guys were playing for jobs in 2013 after an inexplicable loss to the one-win Panthers, are suddenly relevant again. If the Giants lose to the Packers Sunday night, the division will look like this:

Giants, 6-5
Redskins, 5-6
Cowboys, 5-6
Eagles, 3-7

And guess who the Redskins play in Week 13? Yep, the Giants are coming to FedEx Field.

Washington's reawakening has quietly become one of the most outta-nowhere stories of the season, especially given Shanahan's white-flag-waving press conference following the Carolina loss. But this is the NFL where things can change dramatically from one week to the next. And for the Skins, who have won back-to-back games for the first time all year, they now find themselves in control of their own destiny.

It's hard to believe given that Washington dropped four of five before their Week 10 bye, but this was a different team against the Eagles last week and the Cowboys on Thanksgiving.

And leading that resurgence: rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III. After a strong start, Griffin hit a rough patch in October only to find his footing in time for Washington's stretch run. The second-overall pick in April's draft followed up last week's four-touchdown performance with another four-touchdown effort against Dallas.

And much like his game against the Eagles, RG3 had help -- aided by a Cowboys defense that went coverage optional on two of his touchdown throws. The first, a 68-yard bomb to Aldrick Robinson, where the nearest defender was a good 20 yards behind the play. The other came early in the fourth quarter and sealed the Cowboys' fate. Facing a 3rd-and-inches from the Cowboys' 29, RG3 found tight end Niles Paul all by himself inside the 5-yard line. He fell to the ground as he hauled in Griffin's pass and was able to roll into the end zone.

That's how wide open Paul was.

As has happened so often this season, quarterback Tony Romo mounted a second-half comeback to get Dallas back in the game. After heading into the break trailing 28-3, the Cowboys scored 28 points in the final 30 minutes, including 18 points in the fourth quarter. And as has happened so often this season, it was too little, too late.

Dallas cut the lead to seven with just over eight minutes to go. All the Redskins did was take 11 plays and 5:20 off the clock, the drive ending with a Kai Forbath 48-yarder to finally put the game out of reach.

With the Cowboys' season effectively over, we can begin the "So, Jason Garrett's getting canned, right?" conversations.

And the Redskins' season continues. It seems improbable after their 3-6 start but this team will go as far as RGIII takes them. If the next 10 days go according to plan, Washington could find itself in a tie for the division lead with the Giants. Imagine that.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the Pick-6 Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Ryan Wilson on Twitter here: @ryanwilson_07.

 
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