Romo, Bailey lead Cowboys past Redskins
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Tony Romo's ribs held up just fine. So did Dan Bailey's leg.
Romo persevered through pain to lead enough deep drives to set up Bailey for six field goals, including a 40-yarder with 1:57 left to give the Cowboys an 18-16 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
Dallas' Anthony Spencer chopped the ball from Washington's Rex Grossman with 28 seconds left, and linebacker Sean Lee recovered it, setting off a celebration inside Cowboys Stadium.
Dallas coach Jason Garrett dropped to a knee and pumped his fist wildly at being 2-1 - guaranteeing no repeat of last year's miserable 1-7 start. The Cowboys are even tied for first place in the NFC East, along with Washington (2-1), which was seeking its first 3-0 start since 2005.
Romo mostly avoided contact with the defenders before halftime, but was sacked on the first play of the second half after the ball was knocked out of his hands. Romo picked it up and then was quickly tackled by Ryan Kerrigan for a 5-yard loss.
Eight plays later, Brian Orakpo blitzed without being blocked. Romo had to get rid of the ball in a hurry and threw an interception to Kevin Barnes. Because he got the ball out of his hands, Romo didn't take the full brunt of a hit, but still ended up on the ground under Orakpo.
Washington took advantage with a 76-yard, nine-play drive that ended on Tim Hightower's 1-yard catch from Rex Grossman to snap a 9-all tie.
Dallas cut the gap to 16-12 when rookie Dan Bailey kicked his fourth field goal, a 41-yarder with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
Romo played in the Cowboys' home opener only eight days after sustaining a fractured rib and a small puncture in his lung in an overtime victory at San Francisco that he finished.
Romo was 16 of 24 for 148 yards after three quarters. Grossman was 15 of 25 for 183 yards.
Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall had said he would be asking for some corner blitzes and hoping to put his helmet on whatever hurt for Romo. But neither Hall nor his teammates got too close in the first half to Romo, who kept throwing quick passes or handing off the ball.
That changed after halftime.
After Romo, Dez Bryant and Felix Jones got back on the field for the Cowboys for Week 3, they lost starting right defensive end Jason Hatcher in the first quarter because of a calf strain.
The Cowboys took a 9-6 lead on Bailey's 32-yard field goal with 2:25 left in the half. That capped a 54-yard drive after a botched field goal try by Washington, with Romo completing 4 of 4 passes for 46 yards before Bailey's third field goal.
Washington got the ball one more time in the half and Graham Gano kicked a 50-yard field goal on the final play.
After both teams kicked field goals on their opening drives of the game, they each converted turnovers into another field goal.
The only time Romo was touched by a defender in the first quarter came on the Cowboys' opening drive when Redskins defensive end Stephen Bowen, who left Dallas as a free agent in July, brushed the quarterback's lower legs after he had already let go of an incomplete pass.
On their second possession, left tackle Doug Free was called for holding, a penalty that likely kept Romo from behind crushed by charging Orakpo.
When Oshiomogho Atogwe was undeterred on a blitz with about 10 minutes to go in the first half, Romo got rid of the ball just in time though the safety finished his pursuit with a slight push.
Washington led 6-3 after the first quarter on two field goals by Gano.
The second field goal, a 27-yarder with 21 seconds left in the first quarter, came after Redskins safety LaRon Landry forced a fumble in his season debut. He stripped the ball from Kevin Ogletree after a catch.
The ball was originally given back to the Cowboys after officials ruled that Barnes touched the ball while he was out of bounds. But Washington challenged the call, and after a review showed Barnes' body was still in the air when he touched the ball, Josh Wilson was credited with a recovery that set up the Redskins at the Cowboys 10.
Landry missed the first two games this season because of a strained right hamstring after missing the last half of the 2010 season with a strained left Achilles tendon.
Washington was going for its first 3-0 start since 2005, and trying to start a season with three consecutive wins over NFC teams for the first time ever.
The Cowboys are 8-8 in regular season games at Cowboys Stadium, their $1.2 billion facility that opened two years ago. They have yet to win a home opener in the stadium, with a loss to Chicago last year and to the New York Giants in a Sunday night opener in 2009.
Washington opened the game with a 10-play, 42-yard drive to Gano's 46-yard field goal. After tight end Chris Cooley converted third-and-1 with a 3-yard run and caught a 17-yard pass on the next play, the drive stalled.
The Cowboys responded with Bailey's 41-yard field goal. That drive included a 27-yard short pass from Romo to Jones.
It is the 15th time the Cowboys and Redskins have played on Monday night, one shy of the record 16 Monday matchups between the Denver Broncos and Raiders. Dallas and Washington each won seven of the first 14.