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After Bryant’s early tantrum, Cowboys use him late in 19 16 win at Redskins, jumbling NFC East

By Howard Fendrich


LANDOVER, Md. _ After the game’s 10th drive finally resulted in the evening’s first points, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant stalked around the sideline, cursing and yelling and, oddly, even removing his shoes.

He was upset that the football wasn’t being thrown his way.

On the game’s final scoring drive, Matt Cassel’s only two completions both went to Bryant, helping set up Dan Bailey’s 54-yard field goal with 9 seconds left Monday night that gave Dallas a 19-16 victory over the Washington Redskins and allowed the Cowboys to somehow keep themselves in the thick of the playoff chase in the woeful NFC East.

“I was frustrated,” Bryant said of his first-half tantrum. “But then I had to calm down and understand that this is the game. Everybody wants to make plays and be there for their team.”

At halftime of a game that was dull until the last 90 seconds, Bryant had zero catches and had been targeted twice. He finished with three receptions for 62 yards, including a diving 42-yard grab that led to _ what else? _ a field goal.

“I have to do a better job of giving him more opportunities,” said Cassel, who is now 1-4 as a starter in place of injured quarterback Tony Romo.

The last-place Cowboys (4-8) won for the first time this season without Romo and now are only one game behind the Redskins, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, who are all 5-7.

“We are still in this thing,” Bryant said.

Hard to believe, but it’s true.

“I would never have dreamed it,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “You can say it speaks to parity _ and I guess it does. We are fortunate.”

Jones added: “We won one on will tonight.”

Here is what else to know about Monday’s game:

NO TABLETS: A power issue led to the teams not being able to use their sideline tablets during the game. “We didn’t have tablets, and we didn’t have pictures. Typically, if the headsets are off for one side, they immediately go off for the other side. But the NFL is working their way through the ruling with tablets and pictures and it took a little while before it was balanced on each side,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s a challenge (to be without that technology). You get so used to looking at those and verifying your thoughts.”

UP AND DOWN: The Redskins had won their past five home games, including a 20-14 victory over the Giants last weekend, but they continued a pattern: Washington has not collected consecutive wins all season. “We’ve shown flashes. Good quarters, good games, here and there,” coach Jay Gruden said. “But the great teams, the ones that advance in the playoffs and win Super Bowls are consistent. And we have not been.”

JACKSON: With score 9-all and about 1 1/2 minutes left, Washington’s DeSean Jackson fielded a punt at his own 16 and headed up the field. Jackson, who hadn’t been used as a punt returner this season until last week, got past the 20, before reversing course and heading backward all the way to the 1, with various Cowboys in pursuit. As he again tried to move forward, Jackson was surrounded and the ball popped out, recovered by punter Chris Jones at the 15 with 86 seconds remaining. Two plays later, Dallas turned that fumble into its only TD. Jackson said he heard some encouraging words from Gruden afterward. “The best thing I could say was, ‘I laid an egg; I messed up,”’ Jackson said.

WITTEN’S 1,000TH: Dallas TE Jason Witten became the second NFL player at that position to reach 1,000 catches, joining Tony Gonzalez. Witten already was one of only two tight ends _ Gonzalez is the other _ with more than 10,000 yards receiving. “I was happy to get it,” Witten said. “I’m just humbled by it.”

QUITE A QUARTER: There were 18 points over the first 58 1/2 minutes, 17 the rest of the frenzied way. The first quarter-plus was particularly ugly. The first nine possessions resulted in eight punts _ five after three-and-outs _ and one turnover, a combined four first downs, only 68 yards of offence, and a half-dozen penalties for 66 yards. In all, the teams totalled four turnovers and 16 penalties.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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