Don't Forget About These 5: Unusual Penalty, First-Down Spike & More

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys rallied from 18 down to tie the game, but ended up falling short in the end.

The season is over and there were several key highlights from both teams. But like all games, there were a handful of plays that could go unnoticed, but yet changed the outcome.

Let's take a closer look at five that affected this one. 

Failed third down on opening drive –The Cowboys were on the move to start the game, but on third-and-2 from the Packers' 32-yard line, they chose not to give the ball to Ezekiel Elliott for one or perhaps two attempts for the first down. Instead, Dak Prescott threw the ball into tight coverage and it was nearly intercepted. The Cowboys got a field goal out of the drive, but they quickly saw that field goals weren't enough to win a game like this.

Brice Butler's unusual penalty – Other than the occasional pass interference, you don't see many 37-yard penalties. But that's what the Cowboys endured after a 22-yard completion to Terrance Williams was negated after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Brice Butler for entering the huddle, exiting the huddle and then re-entering. The Cowboys had never seen that penalty enforced before and instead of having the ball on the Packers' 15-yard line, it was second-and-20 on their own 48. They eventually had to punt.  

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Rodgers takes a sack before half – We've asked the Cowboys to get sacks all year long but the one time they actually got to Rodgers, it ended up hurting them. After scoring late in the second quarter to cut the lead to 21-13, the Cowboys forced Green Bay to third-and-10 at its 25-yard line. A blitz sacked Rodgers, but with no timeouts left, the Cowboys had no chance of stopping the clock with 42 seconds left. An incomplete pass there would've given them a shot to perhaps get into field goal range and add more points on the board.  

First play of second half – The Cowboys had the momentum going into the locker room, cutting a 21-3 lead to 21-13. But the first play of the third quarter saw Rodgers roll out and find Randall Cobb for a 25-yard pass to midfield. Cobb made a tough catch on an even tougher throw. That put the Packers on the move again as they marched for a score and a 28-13 lead. Had the Cowboys been able to get another stop, the entire flow of the second half could've been different.  

Necessary spike on final drive? – The Cowboys were driving for the game-tying field goal or perhaps a touchdown. But after a first-down catch to Jason Witten to the Packers' 40-yard line, the Cowboys went for a first-down spike to stop the clock. It also took a down away and the Cowboys ended up settling for a field goal to tie the game. A play on first down, especially a run, probably takes about 10 seconds off the clock, if not longer. Even if the Cowboys settle for the same field goal, it's likely Green Bay gets the ball back with about 25 seconds left and might have just opted for overtime. Even so, it would've been tough to get into field goal range with that little time.

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