LANDOVER, Md. -- Quarterback Tony Romo rallied the desperate Dallas Cowboys from a nine-point deficit with less than seven minutes remaining to beat the Washington Redskins 24-23 and stay alive in the NFC East race.
After running back DeMarco Murray lost nine yards on third-and-goal from the Washington 1-yard line, Romo had plenty of time to find Murray for the game-winning 10-yard touchdown pass by the right pylon with 1:08 left.
"It was a remarkable sequence," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, whose job is reportedly in jeopardy if Dallas doesn't win the division for the first time in his four seasons. "You don't anticipate having a (9-yard) loss on a short-yardage, goal-line type of run. Somehow our guys collected themselves. Tony's been remarkable throughout his career being able to create a little time for himself, buy a little time for the receivers and he did it again."
Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall had strung out Murray on third down but failed to keep him from catching the fourth down pass.
"I felt like we had the right call dialed up and we just didn't execute," Hall said.
The Cowboys (8-7), who lost Week 17 showdowns for the division crown to the New York Giants in 2011 and to Washington in 2011, can win the NFC East title by beating the Philadelphia Eagles at home next Sunday in a winner-take-all regular-season finale. The Redskins sank to 3-12 with their seventh straight defeat, the second in a row by a point.
"We're the only team that keeps getting themselves in position to win the NFC East every year," Romo said. "That's a credit (to us). It's also a negative that we didn't do it the last couple of years. You just have to keep getting yourselves there and when your team's good enough, you'll knock down that door."
Romo connected with backup wide receiver Cole Beasley for 20 yards on fourth-and-6 on the 15-play, 73-yard possession which ended with Dan Bailey's 25-yard field goal that brought Dallas within 23-17 with 6:09 remaining.
Four plays later, Redskins cornerback Josh Wilson slipped and wide receiver Terrance Williams hauled in a 51-yard bomb from Romo. The quarterback found wide receiver Dez Bryant for 17 yards on the next snap before hitting Murray for the victory four plays after that.
"That's a tough one to take because our football team played extremely hard ... had a lot of chances to finish the game and we didn't," said embattled Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, whose four-year record fell to 24-40
On Washington's final drive of the first half, wide receiver Pierre Garcon put the Redskins on the Dallas 40 with consecutive catches of 26 and 12 yards. However, on third-and-10, quarterback Kirk Cousins' high pass deflected off wide receiver Santana Moss' hands and into those of diving Cowboys safety Jeff Heath at the 7 as Dallas took a 14-6 lead into halftime.
The Redskins avenged that mistake on the first possession of the second half when Wilson forced fullback Tyler Clutts to fumble and recovered the ball at the Dallas 33. Garcon got the ensuing drive started with a 9-yard catch and finished it with an 8-yard touchdown on a slant that drew Washington with 14-13 with 9:09 left in the third quarter.
Four plays later, Hall picked off Romo's fluttering pass for Bryant and Washington had the ball at the Dallas 47. Garcon passed Hall of Fame wide receiver Art Monk's Washington record of 106 catches in a season on the second play of the eight-play drive which running back Alfred Morris finished with a 4-yard touchdown. That gave the Redskins their first lead, 20-14, with 3:41 remaining in the quarter.
A late hit on Moss by Cowboys rookie safety J.J. Wilcox gave Washington a critical first down on its next series which kicker Kai Forbath finished with a 48-yard field goal four seconds into the fourth quarter.
After the Redskins began with a three-and-out against the porous Dallas defense, their beleaguered special teams surrendered a 62-yard punt return by just-signed Micheal Spurlock to the Washington 3-yard line. Two plays later, Murray ran over Hall for the 3-yard touchdown and the 7-0 advantage.
Moss' 18-yard punt return to the Dallas 37 set up Forbath's 36-yard field goal with 4:15 left in the quarter that cut Washington's deficit to 7-3.
When the Redskins got the ball back, an 18-yard run by Morris and a 27-yard catch-and-run by Garcon made it first-and-goal at the Dallas 10. However, consecutive 5-yard penalties pushed the Redskins back 10 yards and they settled for a 22-yard Forbath field goal with 7:36 remaining in the half.
With their lead in jeopardy, the Cowboys responded with a 43-yard burst by Murray to midfield and, a play later, a 43-yard completion from Romo to Bryant. Three plays later, Romo avoided blitzing cornerback E.J. Biggers and found Bryant in the back of the end zone for the 14-yard touchdown with safety Brandon Meriweather covering to make it 14-6 Dallas with 4:37 to go before halftime.
NOTES: Rookie LB DeVonte Holloman started for the Cowboys' top tackler Sean Lee (neck) at middle linebacker. ... FB Darrel Young (hamstring) was active for Washington, but Niles Paul started in his place. ... RB DeMarco Murray's 96 yards made him the Cowboys' first 1,000-yard rusher since Julius Jones in 2006. ... With 88 yards, Redskins RB Alfred Morris maintained his lead in 70-yard rushing games over the last two seasons at 25. ... Cowboys QB Tony Romo has seven interceptions in four games against Washington the last two seasons, 22 in his other 27 games.