ARLINGTON, Texas. – There were plenty of exciting plays that will be remembered. Ezekiel Elliott's long touchdown run, a great catch by Brice Butler and a better one by Dez Bryant will all be included in the highlight reel. Let's not forget Bryant's touchdown toss to Jason Witten, either.
But like all games, there were a handful of plays that could go unnoticed, yet changed the outcome. Let's take a closer look at five that affected this one.
Dak gets yards back on scramble – Facing first-and-15 after a penalty, Dak Prescott got most of the yards back on an impromptu scramble for 12 yards that got the Cowboys back in a favorable position. At that point, they can be flexible with the play-calling, which led them to a simple run to Zeke on the following play. The result was anything but simple as the rookie scampered for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Offsetting penalty pays off – It appeared the Cowboys were going to be pushed back to either a field goal or maybe out of range after Doug Free was called for holding before the half. But on the back end of the play, the Lions were also flagged for defensive holding while trying to cover Cole Beasley. That gave the Cowboys a new third down and this time Prescott hit Dez Bryant in the end zone for a game-tying touchdown before the half.
Holding penalty turns tide – The Lions were trying to generate a drive to start the second half. But on first down at their own 39-yard line, running back Zack Zenner, who torched the Cowboys in the first half, was flagged for holding. That pushed the Lions back to first-and-20, which led to a sack on second down. Then on third-and-31, Stafford tried to force the ball into a tight window, resulting in an interception by J.J. Wilcox. A few plays later the Cowboys scored to take the lead for good.
Pass interference leads to points– All pass interference penalties seem to be difference-makers and this one was no exception. On second-and-8, Bryant drew a P.I. near the goal line, giving the Cowboys a first down at the 5-yard line. Zeke was walking into the end zone for a touchdown just moments later. While they likely would've scored on the drive anyway, the penalty certainly made it easier for the Cowboys, who had grabbed all of the momentum.
Williams gives Cowboys room– Even though the Cowboys held a 28-21 lead, the offense started off a third-quarter drive on its own 5-yard line. On first down, Prescott hit Terrance Williams on an 11-yard curl route for a first down. That not only gave the offense some wiggle room, but it got Williams going as he caught two more passes in the next three plays. The offense didn't stop there as the Cowboys drove down for a game-clinching score when Bryant hit Witten on a reverse pass.
View all of our favorite gameday photos from the Cowboys game against the Detroit Lions in Week 16 at AT&T Stadium.