Cowboys' finishing kick makes it four wins in a row

Posted Friday, Nov. 25, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

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ARLINGTON -- There were times Thursday when the Dallas Cowboys didn't look like the best team on the field.

And they certainly didn't look like a team on a four-game winning streak and controlling its own playoff destiny atop the NFC East standings.

But the end result is all that matters to the Cowboys, who have learned how to close out games and will themselves to win, even when not playing their best.

It also helps to have quarterback Tony Romo overcoming his own mistakes and making plays out of seemingly nothing and to have the most reliable kicker in the league.

Dan Bailey's 28-yard field goal as time expired gave the Cowboys a 20-19 victory in a game they didn't control until the end before a Thanksgiving Day crowd of 87,418 at Cowboys Stadium.

It was Bailey's second field goal of the day and his 26th consecutive without a miss, one short of the team record set by kicking coach Chris Boniol in 1996.

The undrafted rookie free agent has made 27 of 28 field goal goals this year and hasn't missed since Week 2 of the season. It was his second consecutive game-winner and his fourth of the season.

"Well, knock on wood, he's been pretty automatic," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We have a tremendous amount of confidence in him to make those kicks. I thought it was a good illustration of the will that our football team has. There are a number of things in all three areas that we don't like very much. I thought our guys kept fighting. We did enough to give ourselves a chance to win the game."

Considering it was the Cowboys' third game in the past 12 days, good enough was all that mattered in what was their fifth win in the past six games.

The Cowboys (7-4) had not won four consecutive regular-season games since they went 13-3 in 2007.

They have a half-game lead in the NFC East over the New York Giants, and currently hold the tiebreaker advantage because they own a better division record.

With two games against the Giants over the final month of the season, much has yet to be decided. The Cowboys have 10 days off before the Dec. 4 game against the Arizona Cardinals (3-7).

"It's just about getting each win," Romo said. "It's a W. It counts in the win column. At the end of the year, those things add up and that's what's talked about when the season's over. These W's, what your record is, what you did in the playoffs. They don't remember that game in Week 7, yeah, they struggled here. But it's about winning.

"It feels good to win and to win four games in a row."

Things certainly didn't start out well for the Cowboys, with Romo being intercepted twice in the first quarter, snapping a streak of 128 passes without an interception.

And it didn't look good in the third quarter when they allowed 10 points, including a 35-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall, giving Miami a 16-10 lead.

But that's when Romo took over, leading the Cowboys on a nine-play, 77-yard touchdown drive by buying time with his feet and making several risky throws, capped by an 18-yard touchdown pass to Laurent Robinson when Romo again rolled away from pressure.

Romo started the game-winning drive by shimmying out of trouble when blitzing safety Will Allen was closing in.

Romo found tight end Jason Witten for a 23-yard gain.

"As he was coming in I don't know what I did," said Romo, who completed 22 of 34 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. "I sort of shimmied or something, bought an extra second. Sometimes you do what your instincts tell you to do."

The Cowboys then put the ball in the hands of running back DeMarco Murray. He rushed for two more first downs en route to 87 yards on the day to set up Bailey's final kick.

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


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