LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – In a finish as crazy as any in the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry, Washington’s Nick Novak got two chances to try a game-winning field goal.

He missed the first, and barely made the second – with no time left on the clock.

Novak’s 47-yard kick gave Washington a 22-19 comeback victory over Dallas on Sunday, snapping the Redskins’ three-game losing streak.

Here’s what preceded that ending: Novak was wide right on a 49-yard field-goal try with 31 seconds left, and then Cowboys kicker Mike Vanderjagt’s chip shot with 6 seconds to go was blocked by Troy Vincent.

On the block, the ball bounced around until Sean Taylor picked it up and made a weaving, tackle-busting return into Dallas territory as time expired. Dallas’ Kyle Kosier was flagged for a facemask penalty on the return, tacking on another 15 yards – and meaning the game would continue for one more play.

That wound up being Novak’s field goal, when the ball barely sneaked inside the right upright. With his arms up, Novak ran about 50 yards back downfield, and several of his teammates piled on top of him.

The costly flag on Kosier was one of 11 times Dallas was penalized for 153 yards, including one on Terrell Owens for excessive celebration: He pretended to take a nap by using the football as a pillow after his 4-yard touchdown catch from Tony Romo put the Cowboys ahead 19-12 in the third quarter.

But Washington tied it on the third play of the fourth quarter, when beleaguered quarterback Mark Brunell connected with Chris Cooley on an 18-yard score.

The Redskins (3-5) came off their bye week knowing they needed a victory to have any chance of making the rest of the season meaningful, and coach Joe Gibbs vowed to revamp the playbook.

There was only one significant personnel change, though: inserting Vincent as a starting safety in place of free-agent disappointment Adam Archuleta. Vincent’s biggest contribution against the Cowboys (4-4) was the block on Vanderjagt, who had been 5-for-5 in the fourth quarter on field goals this season.

Vanderjagt had a chance to win this one thanks to more poise from Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who went 24-for-36 for 284 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception.

Brunell was 14-for-23 for 192 yards and a TD, even though top target Santana Moss missed the game with a hamstring injury. Clinton Portis, getting much more work than he has been lately, carried 23 times for 84 yards, including a season-long 38-yard run around the left side for a touchdown.

Making his second NFL start, Romo bought time by scrambling and hit Owens seven times for 76 yards.

After his TD, Owens dropped to ground and rested his head on the football – likely a reference to his acknowledgment that he falls asleep during team meetings – and drew a 15-yard penalty from the officials and an angry scream from coach Bill Parcells.

Later in the third quarter, Owens got behind two defensive backs and was wide open. Romo threw a perfect pass, and the ball hit Owens in the hands, but he dropped what for a split-second appeared certain to be a 74-yard touchdown pass.

Owens had another drop on Dallas’ next possession, too.

Given that these teams are coached by men who’ve won a total of five Super Bowls – three for Gibbs, two for Parcells – there was an awful lot of sloppy or ineffective play.

The Redskins failed to score on their opening possession, despite starting seven plays inside the 5. Dallas’ first possession ended with a safety, when Lemar Marshall dragged down Julius Jones in the end zone.

Washington’s first possession of the second half began with a holding penalty, 3-yard run, loss of 9 on DeMarcus Ware’s sack, and a gain of 8 on third-and-26. That was enough to draw boos.

By game’s end, there was nothing but cheers.

As Novak walked off the field, his helmet aloft in his left hand, he was smiling, the kick he’d missed moments earlier a distant memory.

AP-ES-11-05-06 1659EST


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