You don’t have to go back that far to understand the wackiness that has happened at Washington between these NFC East rivals. Just 11 months, really.
In Week 7, the Cowboys were lining up for a game-tying field goal attempt by Brett Maher when veteran L.P. Ladouceur was flagged for a snap infraction. Yes, a snap infraction. The officials determined that he moved the ball in an inordinate way, so instead of a 47-yard try from Maher, it was pushed back 5 yards. Maher’s ensuing attempt hit the left upright and the Cowboys left Landover, Maryland, with a 20-17 loss, falling to 3-4 overall.
The snap infraction, which technically went in the books as a false start, might not be the strangest thing that has happened in recent years in this series. Some other candidates:
Nov. 5, 2006 (Redskins 22, Cowboys 19): Ladouceur was again involved in one of the crazier finishes, although his snap was fine setting up a 35-yard game-winning attempt by Mike Vanderjagt. What wasn’t so good was the protection, allowing Troy Vincent to block the kick and Sean Taylor to return it to the 44. Add another 15 yards for a face mask penalty on Kyle Kosier, which gave Nick Novak the chance to make a 47-yard kick on an untimed play for the win. This was just at the start of Romo-mania, Tony Romo’s second start. He would win nine straight on the road in the regular season after this loss.
Sept. 12, 2010 (Redskins 13, Cowboys 7): This loss was the beginning of the end for coach Wade Phillips. With four seconds left in the half, instead of taking a knee, coordinator Jason Garrett opted to call a play, with Romo throwing a checkdown to Tashard Choice. Instead of going down, Choice fought for yards despite being more than 60 yards from the end zone. He fumbled, and DeAngelo Hall ran the loose ball in for a touchdown.
Oh, if that were the only strange thing. With three seconds left in the game, Romo thought he threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Roy Williams, but tackle Alex Barron was called for holding, wiping out the score. The Cowboys started the season 1-7 and Phillips was fired midseason.
Dec. 30, 2012 (Redskins 28, Cowboys 18): Things looked bleak for the Cowboys in a winner-take-all Week 17 meeting, trailing 21-10 with 6:35 to play. After a touchdown and a stop, Romo had the Cowboys on the march for a potential winning drive. But Rob Jackson got in the way. Instead of blitzing, like Romo thought, the linebacker dropped into coverage and intercepted Romo’s pass that was floated to DeMarco Murray to end the comeback. Jackson intercepted one more pass the rest of his career.
QB Robert Griffin III consoled Romo after the game, calling him a great quarterback.
Dec. 22, 2013 (Cowboys 24, Redskins 23): Romo, playing with a numb leg because of a back injury, gained some redemption almost a year later by keeping the Cowboys’ playoff hopes alive with a one-point win on a fourth-down touchdown pass to Murray. The Cowboys nearly blew it after reaching the Redskins’ 1 when Murray was stopped for a 9-yard loss on third down, but the quarterback found Murray in the front corner of the end zone on the next play.
Five days later, Romo had surgery to fix a herniated disk in his back. The Cowboys lost their third straight de facto NFC East title game a week later with Kyle Orton as the starter.
Dec. 7, 2015 (Cowboys 19, Redskins 16): This season was a washout because of Romo’s twice-broken left collarbone, and this was the Cowboys’ only win of the season in a game not started by Romo. The hero? Lucky Whitehead. He had a 46-yard kickoff return after Washington tied the score with 44 seconds to play. Matt Cassel hit Dez Bryant on back-to-back completions for 20 yards, and Dan Bailey hit a 54-yarder with nine seconds to play for the win.
Sept. 18, 2016 (Cowboys 27, Redskins 23): This will be remembered for being Prescott’s first win as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. He played well, and the Cowboys took advantage of some poor decisions by Kirk Cousins, such as a red zone throw that Barry Church intercepted that set up the winning drive.
What made the result strange, however, was who scored the Cowboys’ winning touchdown. The coaches benched Ezekiel Elliott after he fumbled for the second time in the game on that final drive, with right tackle Doug Free keeping the Cowboys’ chances alive by pouncing on the loose ball. With 4:45 to play, Alfred Morris, the former Redskins running back, scored the go-ahead touchdown from 4 yards out, complete with his signature home run swing celebration in front of the fans who cheered so loudly for him.