Strong defense — and some late-game good fortune — helped the Washington Redskins defeat their arch-rival Dallas Cowboys 20-17 at FedEx Field on Sunday.
The Washington defense sacked Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott four times, including a strip-sack by linebacker Ryan Kerrigan deep in Dallas territory that fellow linebacker Preston Smith recovered and returned for a 1-yard touchdown, giving the Redskins a 20-10 lead with less than five minutes remaining.
Dallas refused to quit, however, capping a quick 74-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Prescott and forcing a three-and-out on the Redskins’ next possession.
But the Cowboys’ comeback attempt was stymied a strange penalty with three seconds remaining as they prepared to attempt a game-tying 47-yard field goal. Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur moved his hands on the ball before the snap, causing several Washington players to jump offsides and resulting in a false-start penalty.
Dallas kicker Brett Maher’s 52-yard attempt hit the left upright.
“It’s great to beat Dallas, that’s all I care about,” said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. “There’s a lot of things you think about. We could have done this. We could have done that. We could have put them away here. But at the end of the day, the only objective was to win the football game.
“Our defensive line played outstanding,” he said. “We won the line of scrimmage. That’s the key.”
The defense did all it could to slow running back Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys’ main offensive threat, who was held to just 33 yards on 15 carries.
“That was the game plan,” said defensive back D.J. Swearinger Sr. “Stop [Elliott], let Dak beat us — which he almost did.”
Washington is now 4-2 and has won two straight games for the first time this season. The Redskins face another NFC East foe next week when they travel to MetLife Stadium to battle the New York Giants.