There is a little saying that it's better to be lucky than good.
The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo proved to be both in eking out a 27-24 overtime victory Sunday against the Washington Redskins before a crowd of 80,122 at FedEx Field.
It wasn't pretty, but in willing themselves to a gritty road victory against a division rival when things weren't always going their way, the Cowboys showed they might be on the right track toward a playoff run.
It wasn't as easy as the double-digit wins of the past two weeks, when they beat Seattle and Buffalo by a combined score of 67-20.
Dallas (6-4) won its third consecutive game -- its first such streak since 2009 -- and its fourth in the past five games in moving into a first-place tie with the New York Giants in the NFC East. The Giants lost to Philadelphia on Sunday night.
It was the sixth consecutive loss for the Redskins (3-7).
"We talked two weeks ago about needing to stack some wins together and get on a roll," said tight end Jason Witten, who admitted the entire team breathed a sigh of relief when the Redskins' Graham Gano missed a 52-yard field goal attempt in overtime. That set the stage for Dan Bailey's 39-yard game-winner on the ensuing drive.
"It's easy to say you want to stack wins together, but it's hard to do that," Witten said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. To stay in the hunt, that's what you've got to do. Just find a way to win. For us, that was a will-type of win."
Good fortune was certainly on the Cowboys' side considering what almost happened to Romo on Bailey's final kick.
He called a timeout because the play clock was winding down, not realizing the Cowboys didn't have any timeouts left.
It would have been a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That would have made for a 54-yard try, or, since it was still only third down, another play to gain yards.
Luckily for Romo, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan called a timeout at the same time. The officials gave the timeout to the Redskins.
"They were calling timeout, and so I did as well," Romo said, prompting laughter. "I noticed that after the fact. The clock was running down and I was trying to stop it there with one second. But they helped us out."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett could only smile when asked his thoughts when he saw Romo calling the timeout.
Romo's lack of understanding of the timeout rules in overtime didn't detract from another brilliant game.
Arguably in the midst of the best stretch of his career, Romo completed 23 of 37 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns with a passer rating of 113.8. It's his third consecutive game with a passer rating over 100 and his third consecutive with no interceptions.
He did his work against the Redskins without benefit of a strong running attack. Rookie sensation DeMarco Murray was held to 73 yards on 25 carries, and the Cowboys rushed for just 89 yards.
Romo's first touchdown pass was a 22-yarder to Dez Bryant in the first quarter.
But Romo was at his mobile best in the fourth quarter and overtime. He scrambled to his left to buy time and threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Laurent Robinson, tying the score at 17-17 early in the fourth quarter. He did the same on a 59-yard touchdown pass to Witten to give the Cowboys the lead on a third-and-8 play with 8:48 left in the quarter.
The Cowboys' defense allowed the Redskins to drive 89 yards behind quarterback Rex Grossman, who tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Donte' Stallworth with 14 seconds left to send the game to overtime.
After Gano's missed field goal on the opening drive of overtime, Romo unleashed more scrambling magic.
On a third-and-15 from the Redskins' 49, he again rolled left and bought time before hitting Bryant for 26 yards to set up Bailey's game-winning kick.
The Cowboys seek their first four-game winning streak since ripping off seven straight in 2007 when they take on the Miami Dolphins (3-7) on Thanksgiving Day.
Clarence E. Hill Jr. 817-390-7760