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Cowboys defense struggles

ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the Cowboys defense, this isn't about the statistics.

Monday night, against a third-string quarterback, at home, the Cowboys defense failed in critical moments of the game.

Washington was able to beat Dallas 20-17 in overtime and continue a wacky trend in the NFC that had three quality teams -- Philadelphia, Green Bay and Dallas -- all losing this week.

"I had a simple message for us before the game. [It] was to get it done," cornerback Orlando Scandrick said. "We didn't get it done today. We made too many mistakes, and it don't matter what a team's record is, there's too much talent around this league. We made too many mistakes, and we just didn't get it done."

The Cowboys defense failed to respond when quarterback Tony Romo went down with a back contusion in the third quarter. When it was time for the Cowboys defense to make quality plays, it instead allowed the Redskins to score the go-ahead touchdown.

In overtime, the defense couldn't make a key stop, get a sack or force an interception. It allowed a 23-yard completion and an 8-yard run before tight end Jordan Reed converted on third-and-3 by catching a 5-yard pass against safety Barry Church.

There was Colt McCoy, the third-stringer who got the start with Kirk Cousins sitting and Robert Griffin not ready to return due to injury, directing traffic during a scramble.

Faced with a first-and-10 from the Dallas 45, McCoy was flushed out of the pocket and then pointed to Reed to move downfield. McCoy lofted a pass over linebacker Bruce Carter and turned it into a 16-yard completion to Reed.

Four plays later, Kai Forbath nailed a 40-yard field goal to give Washington the lead. Dallas had it's own chances to tie or win the game but couldn't even get to midfield.

"Situational football again came to bite us in the butt," cornerback Brandon Carr said. "Across the board, we hang our hat on winning our one-on-one matchups on defense, and too many times today, we didn't win those."

Overall, the Cowboys' defense did pressure the quarterback and record a season-high three sacks and six quarterback hurries. McCoy threw passes underneath for the majority of the game and completed a stunning 25-of-30 for 299 yards. He didn't throw any touchdowns, but he threw just one interception, on a deep pass into the end zone that was picked off by safety J.J. Wilcox.

The Redskins run game was strong and gained 4 yards a carry. Speedy, big-play threat DeSean Jackson caught six passes for 136 yards.

McCoy was efficient and worked within the confines of the offense to make things happen.

"I wish we could have done more, man," said defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who did have a sack. "We didn't make the plays we should have made. That's what cost us the game."

One of the leaders from this defense, linebacker Justin Durant, is done for the season with a torn biceps. He finished with a team-leading 10 tackles and added two tackles for loss.

Henry Melton, the defensive tackle who was missing for a bit, had his first multi-sack game as well as three tackles for loss.

Rolando McClain (seven tackles and one pass breakup) and Church (six tackles) -- two of the more reliable players -- missed tackles. The Dallas defense made the basic plays, but there were several missed tackles -- two from Church and one from McClain.

"Very disappointed," Church said. "I feel like this has been my worst game since I became a Dallas Cowboy. I played really [badly] overall. It wasn't a great performance in any of the phases."

It's something the Cowboys need to clean up.