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Redskins ‘D,’ Dallas gaffes help McNabb win debut

LANDOVER, Md. — Trailing by six points on the last play of the game, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo scrambled, stumbled and scrambled some more. He stepped forward and finally spotted wide receiver Roy Williams, wide open in the end zone.

A 13-yard pass for a game-winning touchdown. Teammates knocked Williams to the ground in celebration.

But something else was on the field. A yellow flag, a game-long nemesis in a mistake-filled game. Holding on offensive tackle Alex Barron. Game over. It was time for the Washington Redskins to celebrate, but only after a huge exhale.

The new era of Mike Shanahan and Donovan McNabb had a successful start after all, a 13-7 prime-time win Sunday over rival Dallas.

“It was a little heart-wrenching,” Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “I saw that flag on the field. I didn’t know what it was for. When I saw the referee make the holding signal — shooooo! — I sprinted off the field.”

So, never mind that Washington won without scoring an offensive touchdown. Or that McNabb managed only 171 yards passing, hitting on 15 of 32 attempts without a completion longer than 24 yards. The Redskins, coming off a 4-12 season in which they went 0-6 in the NFC East without scoring a TD in either game against the dreaded Cowboys, are off to the good start the franchise sorely needed.

“We’ve had so many heartbreaking losses,” Washington linebacker London Fletcher said. “It’s a new era. New Redskins football. We are 1-0.”

The game likely will be remembered for the two plays that ended each half. Hall returned a fumble 32 yards for a touchdown to send the Redskins into the locker room with a
10-0 halftime lead, and Barron’s holding call on linebacker Brian Orakpo ended the game.

Graham Gano had given the Redskins a 13-7 lead with a 49-yard field with 1:50 to play. After the kickoff, the Cowboys started at their 19 with 1:45 left. They converted a fourth-and-10 at Washington’s 43 when Romo hit wide-open wideout Miles Austin over the middle for a 30-yard gain with 12 seconds to go. Three plays later, Barron committed Dallas’ 12th penalty of the game.

Barron, who was starting because Marc Colombo was out with a knee injury, sat facing his locker after the game, head in hands, long after most of his teammates had showered. He eventually left without comment.

“You can’t blame it on that one play,” Williams said. “We had a bunch of opportunities to drive down and get points, and we couldn’t do it.”

Romo completed 31 of 47 passes for 282 yards. Austin had 10 catches for 146 yards and scored the game’s only offensive touchdown.

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