It wasn’t pretty.
In fact, it was downright ugly at times.
Yet, there is something sweet and satisfying about getting a win when you are not at your best and still puts your team into a three-way tie for first place early in the season.
A Cowboys team that finished dead last in 2010 is now in an early three-way tie for first place with Washington and the New York Giants following a 18-16 victory against the Redskins Monday night at Cowboys Stadium.
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Rookie kicker Dan Bailey capped a perfect night with his sixth field goal of the game -- a 40-yarder with 1 minute, 52 seconds left on the clock.
And when the Cowboys defense made it hold up with a sack and forced fumble by linebacker Anthony Spencer, the 91,017 fans in attendance and the entire Cowboys sideline went into a frenzy, led by fist-pumping head coach Jason Garrett.
“Bailey did a really good job of going out and doing his his job,” Garrett said. “The field goals were the difference in the game. It wasn’t a perfect performance. It was enough to win the game. The biggest thing we did was keep playing. You have to play through adversity. You have to keep plugging away.”
Bailey said he had no doubt about the game winner.
“When you can string 2, 3, 4 kicks together -- it’s rare to have that many attempts, but when you string that many together it kind of gives you the confidence to go out and make it,”
Considering the four errant shotgun snaps by center Phil Costa, two turnovers, the poor play in the red zone and a number of drive-killing and extending penalties -- also quarterback Tony Romo playing with a fractured rib -- the Cowboys’ win was a testament to the direction the team has taken since Garrett took over as head coach midway through last season.
The Cowboys are 7-4 since he replaced Wade Phillips midway through last season _ 5-3 to end 2010 and 2-1 to start 2011.
Garrett’s leadership through the adversity was not lost on giddy owner Jerry Jones in the postgame locker room.
“It’s a credit to our team and a credit to JG that we got our act together and won this game.” Jones said.
Garrett however preferred to credit his players, clearly starting with Bailey, but also Romo for his guts and the defense for its outstanding effort in the keeping the Cowboys in the game despite the repeated struggles on offense.
“I thought Tony did a great job,” Garrett said. “He was certainly banged up. He fought through it. We got bogged down in the red zone over and over again. We took the points. The defense made stops. It’s a tribute to (Romo) and the unit to keep playing.”
Romo wasn’t quite the hero as he was a week ago when he had a nearly flawless performance in the fourth quarter in overtime after coming back from a cracked rib and punctured lung to the lead the Cowboys to an overtime victory against the San Francisco 49ers.
He took two pain killing injections before the game and wore protective vest during the game. But he was sacked only once.
He completed 22 of 36 passes for 255 yards with one interception, while keeping the Cowboys in the game by battling through is own in adversity.