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Bledsoe, Cowboys pound Redskins; Owens breaks finger

Sep 18, 2006 - 5:59 AM IRVING, Texas (Ticker) -- Mark Brunell celebrated his 36th birthday Sunday, but Drew Bledsoe and the Dallas Cowboys were the ones throwing a party.

Bledsoe passed for two touchdowns and the Cowboys' defense harassed Brunell mercilessly en route to a 27-10 victory over the Washington Redskins in a matchup of NFC East Division rivals.

However, all the news was not good for Dallas, which learned after the game that star wide receiver Terrell Owens suffered a broken finger on his right hand and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

"That's part of the game," said Owens, who suffered the injury early in the game but did not tell anyone until leaving late in the fourth. "We have some guys that can step in and it came at a good time. Obviously, we have a bye week coming up (next week), so I got at least two weeks for it to heal. So we'll see what happens."

After throwing three interceptions in Dallas' season-opening 24-17 defeat to Jacksonville, Bledsoe completed 19-of-38 passes for 237 yards. The Cowboys' offensive line allowed him time to throw and also opened running lanes for Julius Jones and Marion Barber, who combined for 133 yards on 28 carries.

"It felt good to come back and get a win after last week," Bledsoe said. "We made so many mistakes last week, it really hurt us. So to come back and get a win this week against a division opponent ... made it a huge game for us."

Jones rushed 20 times for 94 yards and Barber had a one-yard touchdown plunge for Dallas (1-1), which snapped a two-game skid to Washington (0-2) and avoided consecutive home losses to the Redskins for the first time since 1987-89.

Brunell finished 18-of-33 for 197 yards with one interception and was sacked six times. The southpaw threw for 128 yards on the Redskins' final two possessions when the outcome basically was decided.

Ladell Betts had 11 rushes for 40 yards and seven catches for 57 yards, but Washington's offense still appeared lost at times without star running back Clinton Portis, who sat out with a shoulder injury after playing through the pain in Week One.

"It's rough, any time you see your teammates going through something that you feel you can change," said Portis, who claimed he will definitely play next week at Houston. "I probably caused both the two losses, so I can take some of the blame and put it on my shoulders and, when I get back on the field, I'll fix it."

The Redskins were outgained, 367-245, and committed 11 penalties for 117 yards. They converted just 2-of-14 third downs and managed only one sack against Bledsoe.

"We weren't consistent," Betts said. "We just got to look at the tape and be critical of ourselves, including myself. I'll be the first one to say I've got to play better. We got to play better as a whole on offense, and hopefully that can change the outcome of the whole game."

"We're going through an extremely tough time right now," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said. "We have to find a way to win a game. That's our whole focus. We have to find a way out of this."

The Cowboys initially took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter as Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 26-yard field goal and Bledsoe hooked up with Patrick Crayton for a four-yard TD pass on consecutive possessions.

"It wasn't a game-winner, but I guess it did get us off to a good start," Crayton said of his fourth career TD catch. "We knew we had to come and attack them. We couldn't just use ball control, so we had to split it half and half, running and passing."

Dallas pushed its advantage to 17-3 with 8:38 remaining in the second quarter as a 41-yard interference penalty on cornerback Kenny Wright set up Barber's TD plunge on 4th-and-goal.

The Redskins finally received a spark on the ensuing kickoff as Rock Cartwright split a pair of Cowboys at midfield en route to a 100-yard touchdown return. But that really was the lone bright spot for Washington, which had as many penalties (six) as first downs in the first half and did not fare much better thereafter.

"I've been taking a lot of reps the last two weeks on kickoff returns, and I'm just happy to get in there and make some plays," Cartwright said. "It was a nice moment, but the ultimate thing is to get the win, and weren't able to get that."

Midway through the third quarter, Redskins safety Sean Taylor stripped Barber at the Cowboys 42. But four plays later, Brunell lofted an ill-advised pass down the left sideline that was intercepted by Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams at the 1.

Even still, Washington had a chance to pin Dallas deep its own territory. But an immediate interference penalty on cornerback Carlos Rogers gave the Cowboys breathing room, and Wright committed a 15-yard facemask penalty, setting up Bledsoe's 40-yard touchdown bomb to Terry Glenn.

"That was the difference (in the game)," Redskins defensive lineman Phillip Daniels said. "At that point, if we could have scored, it's a different ballgame. ... We've got to find a way to keep them down there and defend our territory. Even though they got the interception on the 1, we've got to keep them down there and give our offense another opportunity."

Glenn led Dallas with six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown to help make up for Owens, who was held to three catches for 19 yards - all in the first quarter - and dropped an easy touchdown pass late in the opening period.

"Terry is a really special and unique receiver," Bledsoe said. "He's got great speed and quickness, tremendous hands and he's also a very smart player. ... He's a guy that I can trust as much as anybody I have ever played with and he was able to come out and make some big plays for us tonight."

Vanderjagt, who sat out last week with a groin injury, kicked a 50-yard field goal with 7:43 remaining to cap the scoring.

"I thought I had to give him a try and he made a good clutch kick there," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "I thought, especially with the elements, it was going to be a field-position game. That three points was big right there."

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