"Obviously not a good play for us," Jason Garrett told a CBS reporter as he walked off the field at the end of the first half.
Garrett usually isn't one to drop quotes that shake the universe, but even for him this was an understatement. He was referring to the final play of the first half against the Kansas City Chiefs. With two seconds left in the game the Chiefs were able to convert a 56-yard Hail Mary, if you can even refer to it as such.
Alex Smith threw the ball 14 yards to Tyreek Hill, who, with three blockers ahead of him, ran it an additional 42 yards, straight into and past the Cowboys' prevent defense. The air was taken out of AT&T Stadium.
"I don't even really know what happened in that play," safety Jeff Heath said after the game, seemingly still shocked the secondary allowed Hill to score. "I'll have to watch the film. That one hurt to give up right before halftime, obviously."
With numerous defenders in front of him, Hill said that he pretended he was playing special teams.
"I just used my speed," Hill said. "It's just a feel thing. I'm a punt returner. I guess we set it up like a punt return. So I just used my instincts."
"We use [that play] in practice every week," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after the game. "We don't get a lot of opportunities to do it, but we did it there."
The play was so unexpected that Jerry Jones was eating a hot dog when it occurred and didn't even see it live. He's seen a lot of huge momentum swinging plays in his time with the Cowboys, and he knows they be the downfall of even the most talented teams.
"This team had every right and reason to get down," Jones said. "They did not. That's the thing I'm proud of today."
To have to sit on a devastating play for 12 minutes is no easy task. A commanding 11-point lead was turned into a four-point lead in the matter of seconds and the Chiefs were to get the ball back at the start of the third quarter. They scored another touchdown on the ensuing drive and the Cowboys looked in disarray.
"A play like that can mess you up for the rest of the game," Heath said. "We had to come in here and clear our minds. We understood that we played a really good first half with the exception of that one play."
Jason Witten echoed that statement after the game.
"I thought our defense the entire game played really well," Witten said. "That's one of those plays. The guy's a dominant player, one of the fastest in the league. So sometimes those plays happen."[embeddedad0]
It's a fair assessment. Take away that play and Hill only had one other catch for eight yards. Outside of that major lapse, they held one of the league's most dangerous offenses to 10 points.
Perhaps most impressively, they didn't let the biggest play of the game, affect the eventual outcome of the game. Rookie Taco Charlton said that it's the veterans in the mold of Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick, and Tyrone Crawford that make the difference between succumbing to momentum and overcoming it.
"I put that on the leadership," Charlton said. "When you have guys like Sean Lee, O, Ty, the guys on the offense supporting us. The leadership in this room is incredible. When you have leadership like that, this group doesn't shake."