MIAMI– The return of Tony Romo saw a couple of big-play touchdowns to his starting receivers. The defense even came through with its first interception return for a touchdown in over a year.
But those plays are easily remembered. In all games, there are a handful of plays that could easily go unnoticed, but yet changed the outcome of the game.
Let's take a closer look at five that affected this game.
Illegal block after interception –While Tony Romo's costly interception in the end zone cost the offense a chance to get on the scoreboard, the ensuing chop-block penalty on Jason Fox at least moved the ball back from the Dolphins' 18 to the 9. While that didn't seem like a big deal at the time, it did keep the offense pinned back. Three plays later, early in the second quarter now, Tannehill was picked off by Rolando McClain over the middle for an easy walk-in touchdown to get the Cowboys on the board. Without the penalty, the Dolphins might have been less conservative and not in the same position for the Cowboys to get the pick-six.
Dolphins hold up Williams –Deep into the second quarter, the Cowboys nearly saw a drive stall when Romo was sacked inside the 15-yard line. But a holding penalty on Dolphins cornerback Jamar Taylor, trying to guard Terrance Williams, gave the offense a first down. With runs by Robert Turbin, and clutch catches by Devin Street and Williams, it gave the Cowboys a shot on third-and-10 from the Miami 31 to throw deep. Romo hit Williams in the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Pouncey's chop block –The Cowboys led 14-7 to start the second half but after Romo threw a wild interception over the middle, the Dolphins began their first possession at their own 43. But after a 15-yard gain to the Cowboys' 42, center Mike Pouncey was flagged for an illegal chop block. The 15-yard penalty pushed the ball back to the Miami 38. More penalties on the Dolphins eventually led to a punt as the Cowboys were able to dodge that bullet with no real consequences following Romo's pick.
J. Crawford drops Tannehill –The Cowboys led 24-14 with eight minutes remaining but Miami was on the move. The Dolphins had second-and-6 from their 47 when the coverage held up just long enough for Jack Crawford to get home and sack the quarterback for an 11-yard loss. That pushed the Dolphins back to third-and-17 and they could only manage 11 more yards, before having to punt it away with 6:30 left. The Dolphins wouldn't get it again until after the two-minute warning.
McFadden gets just enough –With the Cowboys leading 24-14 late in the game and pinned back in their own territory, the Dolphins had the chance to push them back even more after a holding call. The Cowboys could've had second-and-18 from their own 5 but Miami opted to decline the penalty. So with third-and-14 from the 9, McFadden got around the edge and up the field for a 15-yard run to move the chains. A stop there and the Dolphins probably get the ball near midfield with a chance to get into scoring position. Instead, the Cowboys push the ball all the way out to the Miami 31, draining four minutes off the clock.