IRVING, Texas (AP)—For more than 58 minutes, Vinny Testaverde was the scorn of Dallas Cowboys fans. They wanted the old guy benched so they could see a young quarterback and they were more than happy to let him know it.
Testaverde tuned out the boos—and the signs, and the chanting of his backup’s name—to show why coach Bill Parcells trusts him so much, throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left to beat the Washington Redskins 13-10 Sunday.
Had Testaverde been better earlier, the Cowboys wouldn’t have needed his heroics. But he delivered in the clutch, driving 75 yards for the go-ahead score after taking over with 1:25 left and no timeouts. He added to the drama by starting the series with three straight incompletions, forcing him to keep it alive by converting on fourth-and-10.
Testaverde celebrated the touchdown with his arms held wide above his shoulders, palms up. He insisted he was just soaking in the moment, not giving any sort of “How do you like me now?” gesture to the crowd. He admitted, though, that he was well aware of how they felt about him.
“My ears work. But it’s what is in here,” he said, pointing to his heart, “that affects how you perform.”
The Cowboys beat the Redskins for the fourth straight time and 14th in 15, although it came down to the final play: a 57-yard field goal try by Washington’s Jeff Chandler fell short.
Dallas (6-9) snapped a two-game losing streak but was still eliminated from the playoffs. The Cowboys end the season Sunday at the New York Giants and Parcells probably will stick with 41-year-old Testaverde, not second-year backup Tony Romo or rookie Drew Henson.
“I’m happy our guys were able to win,” Parcells said. “They’ve been hanging in the best they can.”
The Redskins (5-10) had won two of three and were hoping to finish strong in coach Joe Gibbs’ first season back on the sideline. Instead, he’s already lost the most games in any season with one left—at home against playoff-seeking Minnesota.
Patrick Ramsey drove Washington inside the Dallas 11 on the first two drives, but had only a field goal to show for it. The Redskins didn’t cross midfield again until the fourth quarter.
Ramsey capped that drive with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Robert Royal for a 10-6 lead with 6:44 left. But Washington went three-and-out the next two drives and fumbled a punt in between, when it needed a few clock-eating first downs. Ramsey finished 19-of-29 for 158 yards with two interceptions.
“You can look at 50 different plays where we could’ve won the game,” Gibbs said. “There was no one single play that cost us this game.”
Washington lost running back Clinton Portis to a chest bruise. He had just one second-half carry, finishing with 32 yards on 10 tries.
Parcells came into the game hoping to give Romo the first snaps of his NFL career, but wanted “the right situation”—preferably a big lead. Testaverde couldn’t provide it, getting only two field goals through three quarters. He threw an interception in the end zone and rookie running back Julius Jones lost a fumble inside the 5.
Romo kept limber with his helmet on waiting for his chance. If he scanned the stands, he might’ve seen signs like “Bench Vinny” and “Go Romo.” He certainly heard the constant jeers and the chant of “Ro-mo” that followed the interception.
After Washington went ahead, Testaverde failed to get a first down on the next two drives then turned the ball over on downs. He was sacked three times and made several poor choices on where to throw, including missing wide-open Keyshawn Johnson on fourth down.
But on the final drive, Testaverde hit rookie Patrick Crayton for 15 yards on fourth down, then stopped the clock with a spike. He hit Jason Witten for 14 yards, Richie Anderson for 7, then threw deep to Crayton down the right sideline. The seventh-round pick caught it in stride for his first career touchdown.
Testaverde finished 23-of-39 for 234 yards—and the respect of his teammates.
“If you’re booing, you better continue to boo, better boo louder, because it’s not going to affect him,” Johnson said. “That’s just something he’s showed time and time again. This is one of the reasons why our head coach is continuing to play him, so that we can win football games like this.”
The Redskins haven’t won at Texas Stadium since 1995. … Witten had stitches on the bridge of his nose and will have X-rays to see if it’s broken. … Royal’s TD was his third on seven catches this season.