ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo could barely walk the last time he saw the Washington Redskins. Colt McCoy barely came away with a win in his last visit to the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
There's a good chance they will be the opposing quarterbacks when the Cowboys (6-1) go for a seven-game winning streak for just the second time since 1993 when the Redskins (2-5) visit on Monday night.
It's not surprising that Romo is leading Dallas because he's hit just about every benchmark along the road to recovery from a herniated disk in his back. He sustained the injury before leading a season-saving drive at Washington last December, and had to endure a painful plane ride home before surgery five days later that kept him out of a loss to Philadelphia in a playoffs-or-bust finale.
Nobody saw the McCoy thing coming. The former Texas quarterback was the third-stringer behind Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins at the beginning of the season and hasn't started an NFL game since 2011.
With Griffin sidelined by a dislocated ankle and Cousins struggling with turnovers, McCoy came on to lead a comeback win over Tennessee last week. Now he's likely to start in his first trip to the $1.2 billion home of the Cowboys since beating Nebraska for the 2009 Big 12 championship and earning a spot in the national title game.
It's hard to imagine the drama being any higher than when McCoy threw a pass out of bounds and off a railing with the clock approaching 0:00, and the referees put a second back on the clock. The Longhorns kicked a field goal for a 13-12 win.
Emotions will be high.
"I can't even sometimes take my mind there," said McCoy, the winningest quarterback in Texas history. "But I'm really just trying to approach this as a professional and know that this is our next game, this is our next opponent. It's a game in our division that we really need to win."
The Cowboys had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive last year when Romo, injured back and all, threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray with 1:08 left to beat the Redskins. While he didn't get a chance to break what ended up being a three-year rut of 8-8 finishes without a trip to the playoffs, it was a definitive moment nonetheless in his up-and-down career.
"Sometimes I cringe thinking about it, playing that game," Romo said. "As a competitor, you kind of feel like, 'I'll worry about it after the game,' and you do everything you can. It felt like the season was on the line."
Things to consider with the Cowboys playing from ahead for a change, holding the league's best record by a half-game as one of four teams with one loss:
WAITING ON RG3: Redskins coach Jay Gruden said it would be a game-time decision whether to start Griffin ahead of McCoy. Griffin hasn't played since getting injured in Week 2, and he was limited in the first full practice Thursday. Early in the week, Gruden sounded like he was leaning heavily toward waiting one more week with the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. "I'm not going to say it's not going to happen for Monday, but ideally I want him back when he's ready," Gruden said.
MURRAY'S GIFTS: Murray, the NFL's rushing leader and the first to start a season with seven straight 100-yard games, showed his appreciation this week by purchasing iMac computers for the starting offensive linemen. Murray has 913 yards, the third most since 1980 behind Denver's Terrell Davis (1,001 in 1998) and Baltimore's Jamal Lewis (977 in 2003). Murray also leads all running backs with seven touchdowns. "We appreciate it, but DeMarco deserves all the credit," guard Ron Leary said. "If it's free, I'll take it."
MORRIS' DROUGHT: On the flip side, Washington's Alfred Morris doesn't have a 100-yard game this season. Just three of his 10 career 100-yard games have come since he rushed for 200 yards when the Redskins beat the Cowboys in the 2012 finale with a playoff berth on the line. The Redskins are 21st in run defense, averaging about 60 yards less than the Cowboys, who lead the league at 160 per game.
BACK AT LB: Linebacker Bruce Carter is expected back in the Dallas lineup after missing three games with a thigh injury. He and fellow starters Justin Durant and Rolando McClain have all missed time this season. They haven't made it through a full game together yet. Durant injured a groin when all three played in the opener, and Carter went down in the fourth quarter when all three were on the field again three weeks later against New Orleans.
NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME: The Redskins have lost seven straight prime-time games and are 4-15 on Monday night since 2000. That includes a 27-17 loss to Seattle three weeks ago that would have been a lot worse if three touchdowns by Percy Harvin hadn't been wiped out by penalties.
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