ARLINGTON, Texas – The highlight reel of Sunday's 31-7 win over the Rams will include many of DeMarco Murray's long runs, or any of the three touchdown passes thrown by Tony Romo. It might have the record-setting sack by DeMarcus Ware, who is the Cowboys' all-time leader in that category now.
However, all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, but end up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here are a handful that changed this game.
1. Scandrick's Early Sack – After the Cowboys had already coughed up an early fumble, the Rams were in field-goal range at least. But on third down from the Dallas 32-yard line, Orlando Scandrick came screaming off the edge to drop quarterback Sam Bradford for a six-yard loss on the sack. The Rams were out of field goal range and were forced to punt.
2. Murray's First Run– While this was one of many long runs, it definitely set the tone for the day. The Cowboys told everyone they were going to focus on the run and the 14-yarder off left tackle for Murray seemed to get the offense in gear for the rest of the day. It gave some confidence to the team that not only could they run the ball, but Murray was going to have that type of day.
3. Murray Gets It Back – The Cowboys had a 17-0 lead and the ball back early in the second quarter. Things were going great, but it could've been a major setback after a Murray fumble at their own 20-yard line. While there was a major scrum at the bottom of the pile, somehow Murray managed to get it back. The Cowboys ended up punting, and Tavon Austin's touchdown return was called back, the penalties on the Rams pushing them back to the 12-yard line. That's a 68-yard difference in field position in a matter of less than two minutes.
4. Hatcher's Roughing Penalty – This didn't change the outcome, but maybe a few perceptions. Had Jason Hatcher not been flagged for roughing the passer, negating an interception by rookie J.J. Wilcox, we might be talking about two things even more this week. First, the defense likely would've had its first shutout since back-to-back shutouts to end the 2009 season. Secondly, the pick by Wilcox would've only further validated the move to put the rookie into the starting lineup. Still, the defense played well and Wilcox was a part of it. That play would've further enhanced both opinions. [embedded_ad]
5. Short Gain by Cook– The Cowboys led 24-7, but momentum was slightly shifting toward the Rams, who had finally scored a touchdown and then got the ball back late in the third quarter. On third-and-10 from their own 39-yard line, Bradford had Jared Cook open in the flat for what appeared to be a decent gain. But a blitzing Scandrick caused Bradford to hesitate just enough before throwing in the flat to Cook, who was stopped for a 6-yard gain. On fourth down, Bradford then threw an incomplete pass to the left and the Cowboys took over, eventually padding their lead in three plays as Romo hit Dwayne Harris for a 24-yard touchdown.