Joe Gibbs has won three Super Bowls and two NASCAR championships. Yet of all the thrills he has experienced, he puts what happened Monday night near the top of the list.
The Washington Redskins, seemingly stuck in neutral or perhaps even reverse, got touchdown passes of 39 and 70 yards from Mark Brunell to Santana Moss in the final 3:46, then their defense made it hold up for a 14-13 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
“It was one of the greatest moments in sports for me,” Gibbs said.
The Redskins (2-0) ended a four-game losing skid to their top rival and won for only the second time in 16 meetings. This was their first win at Texas Stadium since 1995 and the first time Gibbs beat Dallas Coach Bill Parcells in their last nine games.
No wonder Gibbs got the ice-water bucket treatment at the end and players were celebrating as if they’d won the state high school championship. As an added bonus, Washington is going into its bye week, so this victory will be savored even longer.
“At the end, there was some unbelievable plays,” Gibbs said. “It really took my breath away.”
Parcells’ too, although for other reasons.
The Cowboys (1-1) were coming off a win at San Diego in which they scored the go-ahead points in the final minute, then made it hold up with a defensive stand at the end. Now it happened to them, although this time Dallas led for most of the game, stretching the advantage to 13-0 with 5:58 left.
“You’ve got to learn to close the show,” Parcells said. “We didn’t do that.”
The lead seemed pretty safe considering the Redskins hadn’t gotten as far as the Cowboys 28 since their opening drive and had yet to score a touchdown all season. Plus, history was on Dallas’ side. Washington had lost 25 straight games when trailing after three quarters and Parcells’ teams were 77-0 when leading by at least 13 in the fourth quarter.
Making this victory even sweeter for the Redskins was spoiling what had been a festive night for Cowboy fans. The 65,207 fans -- the team’s largest crowd in 10 years -- were lured out partly by Washington, but mostly to watch Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin join the team’s Ring of Honor.
Then Brunell got going.
On fourth and two from the Washington 46, Brunell hit James Thrash for 20 yards. On fourth and 15 from the Dallas 39, he threw a spiral that Moss ran under in the end zone.
The Cowboys’ next drive was ruined by a holding penalty on Flozell Adams that wiped out a first-down catch by Keyshawn Johnson. One play after a punt into the end zone, Brunell hit Moss for the game-winning 70-yard touchdown pass.
“It looked like the Mark Brunell of old,” said Moss, who caught five passes for 159 yards.
Brunell was 20 of 34 for 291 yards with an interception. He picked on Dallas cornerback Aaron Glenn on both touchdowns.
Dallas still had a couple of minutes to try regaining the lead and was in good shape too, when rookie Tyson Thompson returned the kickoff to the 48. But the Cowboys couldn’t even get a first down.
Their final drive began at their 21 with 36 seconds left. The game ended with Terry Glenn tackled at the Washington 43, then he rose to his knees and threw the ball up in disgust.
“All losses are tough,” Cowboys tackle La’Roi Glover said, “but this one is tougher.”