|Date of game: 11/18/2012
Recap: Dallas vs. Cleveland
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Dan Bailey's 38-yard field goal with 6:13 left in overtime capped a furious comeback that lifted the Dallas Cowboys to a hard-earned -- and much-needed -- 23-20 triumph over the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium.
Dallas (5-5) had to string together a pair of rallies -- first overcoming a 13-0 halftime deficit and later trailing 20-17 in the final minute of regulation -- to notch its second straight victory, a win that closed the Cowboys within one game of the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East.
"It was a good win for our team," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett remarked. "It was by no means pretty, but we just kept battling, kept fighting through and kept picking each other up. I thought we fought through a lot of different adversity and our team played with a lot of poise at the end."
Tony Romo and Dez Bryant sparked the come-from-behind effort, with Romo throwing for 313 yards without an interception on 35-of-50 passing and hooking up with Bryant on a 28-yard fourth-quarter touchdown, part of a 12-catch, 145- yard outburst for the talented wide receiver.
Cleveland's Brandon Weeden finished 20-of-35 for 210 yards and tossed two touchdown passes to Benjamin Watson, the last of which gave the Browns a 20-17 edge with 1:07 remaining in regulation.
Trent Richardson amassed 144 yards from scrimmage for Cleveland (2-8), which gave the Cowboys all they could handle before eventually suffering a franchise-record 12th consecutive road loss.
"At the end of the day, we didn't make enough plays to win," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "It's the unfortunate part of this business that half the coaches in the league are going to talk to their players this week about doing what they can to win the next one after a loss."
After mustering a meager 68 total yards in falling behind 13-0 at intermission, the Dallas offense sprung to life in the second half and gave the team its first lead of the day with 6:48 left in regulation, when Bryant beat Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown down the left sideline and Romo hit the playmaking wideout in stride for a 28-yard score that put the Cowboys up 17-13.
Dallas had a chance to move farther ahead when linebacker Anthony Spencer sacked Weeden on the ensuing drive and pounced on a resulting fumble at the Cleveland 18. The Browns would return the favor, however, with Frostee Rucker jarring the ball out of Romo's hands two plays later and Craig Robertson recovering for Cleveland.
Weeden then brought the Browns deep into Dallas territory by connecting on four straight passes, including a 23-yarder to Josh Gordon and a 10-yard delivery to Watson that produced a 1st-and-goal at the Cowboys' six.
The Dallas defense stood tall, however, stifling Richardson on three running plays and turning the Browns over on downs when Weeden couldn't hit Jordan Cameron on a fade route with 1:42 to go.
Cleveland would get a second opportunity, though, when its defense induced a swift three-and-out and Josh Cribbs brought back the subsequent punt 21 yards, with a horse-collar penalty by Dallas' John Phillips setting the Browns up at the enemy 17-yard line.
Weeden then fired a bullet to a wide-open Watson down the seam to send the Browns back in front, though the score turned out to come a bit too quickly.
Dallas moved near midfield shortly after the following kickoff, then found itself on the Cleveland 14 after Brown was flagged for interference on Romo's deep pass intended for Dwayne Harris. The penalty allowed Bailey to split the uprights on a 32-yard field goal that forged a 20-20 tie heading into intermission.
The teams would trade punts to begin the extra session, with Harris taking Cleveland's back 20 yards to the Browns' 48 to give Dallas the upper hand in the exchange.
A pair of Romo completions to Miles Austin helped the Cowboys twice move the chains and place them well within range for Bailey, who calmly knocked home the game winner from 38 yards away.
"The biggest thing was not losing our composure, just staying focused at all times," said Bryant afterward. "I felt like we did that as a whole, and I felt that's why we came out on top."
Refreshed from a Week 10 bye, the Browns dominated a first half in which their offense produced points on three consecutive drives to account for the 13-0 differential.
Weeden first drove the Browns 48 yards on 10 plays after being set up in good field position by a defensive stop, with the rookie hitting on 3-of-4 attempts for 30 yards on the series.
The biggest of those completions was the last, when Weeden skillfully threaded the needle to Watson for a 10-yard score on 3rd-and-goal to give the Browns a 7-0 edge with 4:01 left in the first quarter.
Cleveland moved 51 yards in nine plays on their subsequent possession, highlighted by a juggling 13-yard catch by Gordon on third down that put the Browns in range for Phil Dawson's 51-yard field goal less than three minutes into the second quarter.
Dallas' defense appeared to hold on Cleveland's next touch, but cornerback Orlando Scandrick was flagged for a personal foul on a Weeden incompletion that would have forced fourth down. Following two Montario Hardesty runs totaling 19 yards that brought the ball to the Cowboys' 21, the Browns ultimately settled for Dawson's 47-yard kick that extended the margin to 13-0.
The Cowboys were finally able to generate something positive on their first drive of the break, with Romo directing a 9-play, 54-yard sequence that culminated with a 44-yard Bailey field goal.
Romo went to work again after the Browns failed to record a first down on their next series. The maligned quarterback was a perfect 7-for-7 on an 8- play, 89-yard possession that featured a 30-yard strike to Bryant and later an 11-yard hookup between the duo that placed the ball at the Cleveland two.
Felix Jones then powered into the end zone on the next play to pull the Cowboys within 13-10 just over a minute into the fourth quarter.
The Cleveland offense again stalled on its next trip, and Dallas continued its surge with a 9-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Bryant's go-ahead grab.Game Notes
Cleveland's last road victory occurred on Sept. 18, 2011, a 27-19 decision at
Indianapolis ... The Browns played without top cornerback Joe Haden, declared
inactive after straining his oblique during the week ... Cowboys defensive
coordinator Rob Ryan held the same position with the Browns from 2009-10 and
was facing his former employers for the first time since joining Dallas prior
to last season ... Richardson finished with 95 rushing yards on 28 carries and
had a team-best six catches totaling 49 yards.