FRISCO, Texas – In the NFL, sometimes it can be as little as one play that change the entire course of the game. So far in this still-young of a season, the Cowboys have had their share of momentum-altering plays.
After each game, we will post an article that outlines five key plays that could fly under the radar, but still played a determining factor in the outcome of the game.
After five weeks and heading into the bye week, we decided to pick one from each game, that perhaps had the biggest impact on the five games the Cowboys have played so far.
Week 1 – Cowboys 19, Giants 3
Tapper's First NFL Sack – What a way to make your first big play. Charles Tapper, who made his NFL debut Sunday night after missing all of last year with a back injury, sacked Eli Manning on second and goal inside the 5-yard line on the Giants' first possession of the second half. The Cowboys led 16-0 and New York was marching for points. But Tapper exploded through the line and dropped Manning for a 9-yard loss. It pushed the Giants back far enough where they couldn't convert third down, settling for a field goal and swinging the momentum back to Dallas again. What we didn't know was that it would be Tapper's only real contribution this year as he was inactive the next few weeks before suffering a broken foot in practice and was placed on injured reserve.
*Week 2, Broncos 42, Cowboys 17 *
Lawrence Penalty on FG – Just after recording his sack of the game, DeMarcus Lawrence was flagged for an unusual leverage penalty on the field goal attempt. The 15-yard penalty gave the Broncos a first down instead of taking the three points. The Broncos promptly marched down and scored a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead. While the Cowboys needed several plays to turn the tide of this game, things could've been different without that penalty. Had the Cowboys got it back with much more time on the clock and not had to run the two-minute offense, they could've scored to perhaps take the lead. Again, a lot of "ifs" and "maybes" but that was the play that turned the game around when the Cowboys had seized the momentum.
Cowboys 28, Cardinals 17
Negated TD Adds Time– As dramatic as it would've been for Brice Butler to have two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter, it worked out better for the Cowboys that the officials reversed his second score, calling him down by contact at the 22-yard line. The 75-yard score to give the Cowboys a 21-14 lead was ruled a 53-yard catch with 6:20 to play. While the Cowboys still had to earn it, the offense scored in three plays to take the lead anyway. Once Arizona got it back, there was only 4:57 to remaining. That extra time would've certainly helped the Cardinals late in the game when they were driving and trailing by two scores. Still, the play was huge because it flipped the field position and put the Cowboys in a spot to take control of the game.
Rams 35, Cowboys 30
Switzer's fumble changes momentum –It's hard to consider this one a "forgotten" play because it was a such a game-changer. But still, second-quarter situations can usually be overcome. But with the Cowboys leading 17-6 and about to get the ball back again for another chance to add to the lead, the Rams were given a gift on Ryan Switzer's fumbled punt. The rookie was surrounded by defenders but got too aggressive and tried to run with the ball, resulting in a fumble that the Rams recovered. Just moments later, Jared Goff threw his only touchdown pass of the game, trimming the Cowboys' lead to 17-13.
Packers 35, Cowboys 31
Second Down Pass to Dez – It's the play that has been talked about the most this week. The Cowboys were in great position to take the lead and had second-and-2 from the Green Bay 11 with 1:24 to play and a running clock. Not only did Dak snap the ball with about 10 seconds left on the play clock but the pass to Dez Bryant in the end zone stopped the clock. The Cowboys were having success running the ball and another run not only probably would've resulted in a first down, but chewed up more clock. The Cowboys scored on the next play, leaving 1:13 for Rodgers to work with.