After each win or loss, it's been customary here on DallasCowboys.com to come up with five plays that might have changed the outcome of the game.
Highlight plays, including touchdowns or notable turnovers, are usually avoided and replaced with the ones that might often go unnoticed.
But for this final list, all plays are included. These are the handful that not only affected their respective game, but also had an impact in altering the course of the entire season.
Before we dive into the top five, let's reveal a few honorable mentions that won't be on the list:
- Felix Jones' fumbled kickoff in Seattle. It set the tone for a disastrous special teams day and one in which the Cowboys struggled all afternoon. The loss completely wiped out the excitement created in the season opener against the Giants
- Orlando Scandrick's missed tackle on Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers could've been huge. Had the stop been made short of the first down, the Cowboys get the ball back, trailing by three with a shot to tie or possibly win. Considering they had just driven the field for a touchdown moments earlier, the Cowboys had a legitimate chance to knock off the unbeaten Falcons.
- Kai Forbath drills a 48-yard field goal on Thanksgiving to extend the Redskins' lead to 10. A miss there, and the Cowboys continue to build on the momentum of a huge second-half comeback and likely drive the field for a game-tying score.
- Brandon Carr's interception in overtime against the Steelers set up a game-winning field goal for the Cowboys, who took an emotional victory to improve to 8-6 and extend their playoff chances.
- In the season finale, Jason Hatcher's personal foul penalty extended the drive for the Redskins, who would've likely kicked a field goal for a six-point lead in the final minutes. Instead, a new set of downs led to a game-clinching touchdown, which sealed the Cowboys' fate.
On to the list of five plays that changed the 2012 outcome:
(in chronological order)
5. Short gain, followed by wasted seconds – At Baltimore in Week 6, the Cowboys rallied back with a chance to beat the Ravens on the road. They had just collected an onside kick and a 15-yard pass interference penalty to set up shop at the Ravens' 34 with 26 seconds to play and the Cowboys holding onto one timeout.
Going back to Dez Bryant seemed logical, considering he was in the middle of what was then a career game with 12 catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. The idea was to run an inside slant over the middle for a few more yards to set up a Dan Bailey field-goal attempt for the win.
But this time Bryant was stopped by Ravens cornerback Corey Williams after just a 1-yard gain to the 33. Obviously, that's not what the Cowboys were expecting and in the ensuing confusion, which included wide receivers Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree walking and jogging back to the huddle, left the Cowboys with no option but to simply call a timeout with six seconds to play, basically wasting about 17 seconds between the tackle and the timeout.
That left Bailey with a 51-yard attempt with a considerable crosswind from right to left. As it turned out, Bailey just hooked the kick to the left, giving the Ravens a 31-29 win.
A few more yards on that pass to Bryant, or a timeout called to run another quick play would've likely netted the needed yards for Bailey to make the kick. As it turned out, Bailey was perfect on field goals inside of 49 yards this season, making all 26 attempts.
With a season that finished 8-8 and one game out of the playoffs, any play that directly resulted in a win or loss should make this list.