Dallas Cowboys can't overcome shaky start in 38-31 loss to Washington Redskins

ARLINGTON -- The Dallas Cowboys fell behind big in the first half against the Washington Redskins on Thursday before rallying to make a game of it, showing a lot of heart and desire.

Few care.

The eventual 38-31 loss, spurred by an embarrassing second quarter when former Baylor quarterback and rookie sensation Robert Griffin III threw three touchdown passes and led the Redskins to 28 points, is all that matters.

The Cowboys' two-game winning streak was snapped and their hopes of making a playoff run took another critical setback as they fell back under .500 at 5-6, while putting the future of coach Jason Garrett back in question.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones maintains that he is not interested in making a coaching change -- even though hot candidates such as New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and Cleveland Browns general manager Mike Holmgren are rumored to be interested.

He also declined to assess the progress the Cowboys have made under Garrett, who is 18-17 since taking over for the fired Wade Phillips midway through the 2010 season. Garrett has only won six of his past 16 games.

"That would be real difficult right now because you would have to point to things like comebacks and that's hollow when you are not winning the game," Jones said. "It's disappointing to be here. I thought this was a critical game for us because it was with a division opponent."

Where the Cowboys are, according to Jones, is basically out of the chase for a wild-card spot in the NFC and needing to win the NFC East, if they have any hopes of making the playoffs.

He is still hopeful, not optimistic. The Cowboys trail the New York Giants (6-4) and the Redskins (5-6) in the standings and must play Griffin and the Redskins again at the end of the season.

"It looks like our best opportunity would be to end up with the best record in the NFC East," Jones said. "I don't know what that's going to be. I don't know if 8-8 will get it there or not, and I sure don't know if we're going to be 8-8."

Outside of likely not wanting to see Griffin again -- he completed 20 of 28 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns in the game, recording a sizzling 132.6 passer rating -- the Cowboys have a number of injury concerns that could impact their ability to make a playoff run.

Linebacker Bruce Carter (elbow), cornerback Orlando Scandrick (fractured hand), receiver Miles Austin (hip) and defensive end Jason Hatcher (concussion) were injured against the Redskins -- joining tackle Tyron Smith, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, running back DeMarco Murray, receiver Kevin Ogletree and centers Phil Costa and Ryan Cook who were already on the sideline.

The Cowboys have 10 days to rest before playing the Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) at Cowboys Stadium and a number of them could be back. But as Jones pointed out, the injuries had little to do with the Cowboys' failures against the Redskins, and they must find a way to play better.

Garrett declined to answer a question about the progress the team has made under him.

But he agreed with Jones, saying the team needs to find a way to play for a full 60 minutes and not just the second half after falling behind.

Credit quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant for leading the rally.

Romo completed 37 of 62 passes for 441 yards and touchdowns of 85 and 11 yards to Bryant, who had eight catches for a career-high tying 145 yards.

The last touchdown came with 8:18 left in the game, making the score 35-28 and seemingly giving the Cowboys hope. But that was before Griffin led the Redskins to a 48-yard field goal, putting the game away.

The rally doesn't offset the miscues in the first half -- including two Romo interceptions and a fumble by Bryant that helped fuel the Redskins' second-quarter surge.

It also doesn't excuse the litany of big plays given up by the defense nor its inability to get a stop when it mattered in the fourth quarter.

"We need to get off to better starts," Romo said. "It's disappointing. I don't know how to explain it other than we need to play better."

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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