Despite a record-setting performance from Tony Romo, a late interception and the Dallas Cowboys' inability to get stops ultimately cost them last weekend.
If last year's efforts against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins are any indication, the Cowboys could have their hands full again Sunday night.
Dallas tries to avoid a third consecutive loss and third in a row to the visiting Redskins, who are hoping to see RG3 return to form following their bye.
Romo went 25 of 36 for a franchise-record 506 yards and career high-tying five touchdowns last Sunday, but his INT with under two minutes left set Denver up for a game-ending field goal and a 51-48 victory.
Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and rookie Terrance Williams combined for 413 receiving yards and four scores.
"Romo played the best game that I've ever seen him play in his career - not only from the standpoint of how he executed, not only how he created plays, but his leadership," owner Jerry Jones told the team's official website. "If we can have that type of play from him and others, especially on the offensive side of the ball, I think we'll win most of our football games left."
The Cowboys, though, will almost certainly need to shore things up defensively if they hope to avoid losing three straight for the first time since a five-game skid Oct. 10-Nov. 7, 2010. Dallas, which surrendered 506 yards of total offense in a 30-21 loss at San Diego in Week 4 before giving up 517 to the Broncos, ranks 28th in total defense with 409.2 yards allowed per game.
"The fact that we weren't able to win when the offense scored 48 points is absolutely unacceptable," linebacker Sean Lee said. "Right now, we're not a good defense. Two weeks in a row, we've given up way too many points and way too many yards. Until we get better, we're not going to win."
The Cowboys also encountered their fair share of issues against the Redskins (1-3) last season, allowing 66 total points in a pair of losses. While Griffin hasn't looked the same since tearing his ACL in the playoffs, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is preparing for what he believes will be a difficult matchup.
"He's certainly coming off of that knee injury, there's no question about that," Garrett said. "He's wearing that brace. You do see him throw the ball from the pocket, but again, he's made plays on the move. He's a dangerous football player, there's no question about that."
"It's a real challenge. ... and he's a big part of it."
After rushing for 815 yards and seven touchdowns in his stellar rookie season, Griffin has run the ball just 18 times for 72 yards thus far. The former Baylor standout, though, feels rejuvenated after getting five days off during the bye week and could start to use his legs more going forward.
"The only way to come back from an injury like that is to play," Griffin said. "I feel good about what we were able to do from a groundwork standpoint, building up each game. But now it's time for us to make that breakthrough, and we have to do it.
"Whenever you set a precedent of how you are going to play week-in, week-out like we did last year, there's going to be high expectations because that's what you want. I don't think we've disappointed anybody more than ourselves the first four weeks of the season."
The Redskins entered their bye with some momentum after winning 24-14 at Oakland on Sept. 29. Griffin threw for 227 yards and a score and was turnover-free for the first time this year.
Despite its record, Washington is one-half game behind Dallas and Philadelphia for first place in the wide-open NFC East.
"The start of the season didn't go the way we wanted to, but we got the win before the bye, and that's what we've got to keep doing," Griffin said. "We know we can still go out and win this division. We've got to take it one week at a time, and it starts with the Cowboys."
Alfred Morris appears good to go after leaving Week 4's win with bruised ribs. While the second-year running back is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, he has received just 14.0 rushing attempts per game, way down from last season's mark of 20.9.
Morris ran for 313 yards and four touchdowns against Dallas last year.
With Cowboys receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) out the last two weeks, Williams has stepped up with 11 receptions for 222 yards and a score.
"I think how he's playing with more confidence shows up anywhere," Garrett said of Williams, one of Griffin's favorite targets at Baylor. "He beats defenders. He catches the ball and makes contested catches."
Austin returned to practice Wednesday and could play in this game.
Dallas is 17-4 at home against Washington since 1992.
The Associated Press News Service
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