Remorseful Cowboys look to put miscues vs. Redskins in past

IRVING, Texas -- Roy Williams went to his seat on the team plane for the flight home from Washington, and there was his assigned traveling companion, Alex Barron.

Imagine that: The guy who appeared to have caught the winning touchdown pass for the Dallas Cowboys was forced to spend the next three hours next to the teammate whose holding penalty wiped away the points, sealing a 13-7 loss to the Redskins in the season opener.

Williams didn't say a word. He just reached out a hand and bumped fists with Barron, acknowledging no hard feelings.

"That silent dap said it all," Williams said Monday. "He said he was sorry for blowing the TD. I said, 'Don't worry about it.'

"I mean, it happens. You don't want it to happen in that situation. You'd rather it happen in the first quarter or the second quarter; the last play of the game, it's tough."

The Cowboys went out of their way during and after the game to support all their teammates who made costly mistakes. It's a long list considering there were 11 penalties before the final zinger, a missed 34-yard field-goal attempt by the new place-kicker, and an unthinkable, game-changing turnover on the final play of the first half.

Dallas was down 3-0 and 64 yards from the end zone when Tony Romo scrambled to throw a pass, then decided to flick the ball to Tashard Choice. The third-year running back fumbled for the first time in his career, and DeAngelo Hall returned it for the Redskins' only touchdown of the game.

Although Romo and Choice are culpable, Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett started it by deciding to do more than simply take a knee with four seconds left, and coach Wade Phillips blamed himself for not overruling his assistant.

Phillips didn't want to discuss the specifics of the call for the infamous final play of the game -- as in why there wasn't another blocker to help fill-in starter Barron, who had been having trouble slowing Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo all day and was twice penalized for holding.

The plays at the end of each half has ignited discussion about the Cowboys' chain of command, and the conversations always include the reminder that team owner Jerry Jones hired Garrett days before he hired Phillips -- and that Garrett makes about $3 million per season.

"I have the right to do anything I want to do," Phillips said. "Sometimes I do (overrule Garrett), sometimes I don't. The situation before the half, I should have."

Why didn't he?

Partly because he was talking to other defensive coaches about how "stupid" -- Phillips' word -- the Redskins were for initially deciding to decline a penalty on the previous play. The Redskins then took the penalty, and Garrett stuck with the Hail Mary call he'd sent in when it looked like Dallas would be on its 46, not the 36.

Phillips also is the defensive coordinator, and he acknowledged that he usually handles his side of the ball and lets Garrett handle his. But Phillips also said it was that way with offensive coordinators he has had at other stops and that it doesn't make any difference what his role was in hiring them.

"I'm not going to go into our relationship and what we say and don't say," Phillips said. "We work together. He works for me. And I think Jason works at what he does and tries to get the right plays and the right people. And we did that some of the time. He's as frustrated as I am."

Garrett should be frustrated. His unit gained 380 yards yet scored only one touchdown. The lone scoring drive covered 34 yards. Dallas cracked Washington's 40-yard line on three of its first four drives and didn't come away with any points.

Penalties were an issue, but there also was curious play-calling -- such as having Marion Barber try the first halfback pass of his career after six consecutive completions by Romo had taken the Cowboys to the Redskins' 12-yard line. This is a recurring theme, too: Dallas set a franchise record for yards last season but scored fewer points than the previous year, when it missed the playoffs.

Phillips' defense, meanwhile, had to swallow losing a game in which it allowed just two field goals.

Defensive end Marcus Spears said this loss was more painful because he believed the Cowboys outplayed the Redskins, but that makes him optimistic for the rest of the season. After all, he said, there are 15 games left.

"We're not going to kill the horse just yet," Spears said. "We may be limping a little bit, but you can still come out of the gate and play well."

Notes: RT Marc Colombo and LG Kyle Kosier have recovered enough from knee injuries that they're expected to practice Wednesday and could play in the home opener Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Colombo's return would send Barron back to the bench. ... LB DeMarcus Ware was fine after injuring his neck on Washington's final drive. He departed the game and didn't return.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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