ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys fumbled the opening kickoff that led to a touchdown return. The Raiders returned the giving-mood later in the quarter and fumbled it back, which led to a Cowboys’ touchdown. Brandon Carr had a big interception in the end zone to save a game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Those plays were big ones and will be shown in most highlight packages in Dallas’ 31-24 win over the Raiders.
But all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, yet still play a huge factor in the outcome. Here is a handful that changed this game.
1. Raiders’ deep fair catch – With Oakland already leading 7-0 and having stopped the Cowboys’ offense for a third time in the first quarter, Raiders returner Greg Jenkins decided to catch the punt at his own 6-yard line instead of allowing it to bounce and possibly roll into the end zone for a touchback. On the next play, the Raiders fumbled the snap, which led to a Cowboys’ game-tying touchdown.
2. Tyron Smith’s fumble recovery – Without a doubt, this is the play of the game for the Cowboys, who were down 21-7 but driving for some points before the half. Dez Bryant had a short pass over the middle, but fumbled the ball away and it appeared Oakland was in position to recover. Instead, Tyron Smith got the ball instead, keeping possession with the offense. Four plays later, DeMarco Murray scored with 14 seconds left, keeping the Cowboys within one score at the half, 21-14. A turnover there, with Oakland getting the ball to start the second half, would’ve been tough for the offense to overcome.
3. First-down completion to Williams – About seven seconds after a would-be first-down catch by Jason Witten, the side judge threw his flag to penalize the Cowboys tight end for a questionable offensive pass interference violation. Now, it’s third-and-13 with the Cowboys down 21-14 from their own 10. Romo hits Terrence Williams for 14 yards, just enough for the first down. The Cowboys would continue the drive and tie the game on a Romo to Dez Bryant touchdown.
4. Oakland personal foul – The Cowboys were staring at second-and-7 from the 14 early in the fourth quarter, but got a first down by penalty when Raiders linebacker Sio Moore decided to slap Doug Free in the face in front of everyone, including the referee. That personal foul penalty gave the Cowboys a first down at the 7. Murray scored on the next play for a 21-14 lead. Had Oakland held the Cowboys to just a field goal, it could’ve changed the circumstances for both teams down the stretch. 5. Romo recovers his fumble
– With the Cowboys leading by a touchdown, they had third-and-6 from their 30 when Romo was sacked and stripped of the ball with 11:09 to play. But the quarterback was able to get the ball right back just before the Raiders swarmed the pile. A turnover there, and the Raiders likely score, either to tie or trim the lead to 4.