ARLINGTON, Texas – Win big, win small; win pretty, win ugly. Tony Romo learned a long time ago that wins are the only thing that matter in the NFL.
So on a day when he was sloppier than he’d been in months, and when his defense was giving up long drives but only one touchdown, Romo had one chance to make it pay off — and he did. He and DeMarco Murray led an efficient final drive, setting up rookie Dan Bailey for a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give the Dallas Cowboys a 20-19 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday.
Dallas (7-4) won its fourth straight, and fourth this season decided by a kick by Bailey in the final two minutes.
Heck, it was the second time in five days that he ended a game with a winning field goal.
“We’re just finding ways to win,” said Romo, who offset a pair of interceptions with a pair of touchdown passes.
That formula will send the Cowboys into December leading the NFC East. They’re a half-game ahead of the New York Giants, pending their game at New Orleans on Monday night. If New York wins, the clubs would be tied.
“There is no favorite,” Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman said. “I’ll tell you what happens at the end of the season. We just have to keep on plugging and get some wins.”
The Dolphins (3-8) had four drives that got within 10 yards of the end zone, yet settled for field goals every time. Their only touchdown came on a 35-yard pass from Matt Moore to Brandon Marshall.
However, Miami still nearly pulled it out. In the second half, the Dolphins scored on all but their final drive.
“When you come into somebody else’s place, those (deep drives) have got to be touchdowns,” Miami coach Tony Sparano said. “They’ve been touchdowns the last few weeks and that’s why you win.”
Things got plenty interesting after halftime. Moore led Miami on three straight scoring drives of at least 70 yards, the last putting the Dolphins up 19-17 with 7:14 left.
Dallas punted, then Moore was finally stopped, too. Miami punted and Dez Bryant returned it 20 yards.
Romo took over at the Cowboys 36-yard line with 2:59 left. The Cowboys took the clock down to 17 seconds. After a kneel-down to waste more time and center the ball between the hash marks, Bailey split the uprights.
Mia—FG Graham 26
Dal—FG Bailey 32
Dal—Robinson 5 pass from Romo (Bailey kick)
Mia—FG Graham 28
Mia—FG Graham 27
Mia—Marshall 35 pass from Mat.Moore (Graham kick)
Dal—Robinson 18 pass from Romo (Bailey kick)
Mia—FG Graham 23
Dal—FG Bailey 28
|Total Net Yards||352||303|
|Time of Possession||31:28||28:32|
RUSHING—Miami, Bush 16-61, Thomas 6-25, Mat.Moore 3-3. Dallas, Murray 22-87, Romo 1-(minus 2).
PASSING—Miami, Mat.Moore 19-32-0-288. Dallas, Romo 22-34-2-226.
RECEIVING—Miami, Marshall 5-103, Hartline 4-77, Bush 3-35, Fasano 2-32, Bess 2-29, Gates 1-11, Thomas 1-2, Clay 1-(minus 1). Dallas, Robinson 7-79, Witten 4-43, Murray 4-41, Bryant 3-35, Phillips 2-16, Bennett 1-8, Jones 1-4.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Miami, Graham 47 (WL).