LONDON – The Cowboys had a slower start but got it rolling in the second quarter, thanks in large part to Dez Bryant, who had two big touchdown catches.
There were some big plays by both teams – mostly the Cowboys – but all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, but ended up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here are five that changed this game:
Sanders muffs early punt – So the Cowboys thought they were upset with the pass interference penalty on rookie receiver Devin Street that wiped out a 28-yard pass. Instead, they had to punt, which was muffed by Jags returner Ace Sanders. The Cowboys recovered at the 6, and were able to score their first touchdown, taking the lead 10-7. The Jags had all the momentum, with the lead and were able to get the ball back when Sanders' fumble turned the game around.
Heath's shoestring tackle – Eager to make up for his earlier fumble, Sanders looked to have some room to run in the second quarter. He fielded a punt at his own 3 and darted up the field for what appeared to be a huge gain. He got to the 26 before Jeff Heath made a diving play to stick his arm out and grab Sanders by the foot. The tackle prevented what could've been a huge return, and possibly a touchdown. The Jags were forced to punt after a three-and-out.
Hitchens catches Shorts from behind – Linebackers aren't supposed to catch receivers in the open field. But Anthony Hitchens was able to get to Cecil Shorts down the sideline to save a touchdown. Shorts still went for 53 yards, but the play ended at the Cowboys' 35. On the ensuing play, Denard Robinson fumbled the ball on the handoff and Barry Church recovered. Had Hitchens not hustled down the sideline, the Cowboys might have seen their lead trimmed to 17-14.
Anger's short punt before half– The Jaguars were forced to punt with just 39 seconds remaining before halftime at their own 30. Punter Bryan Anger didn't get a good foot on the ball and it shanked off his foot for just a 38-yard punt to the Cowboys' 32. A longer punt might have allowed the Cowboys to kneel on the ball or at least try a safer run. Instead, Romo fired a deep ball for Bryant, who hauled it in for a 68-yard touchdown, his second of the game, to give the Cowboys a commanding 24-7 halftime lead.
First down conversion to Escobar– The Cowboys led 24-7 and were looking to stretch the lead early in the third quarter. But facing third-and-4 from their own 19, Romo bought some time and found tight end Gavin Escobar over the middle for 14 yards and a big first down. That set up a trio of big runs, ending with Joseph Randle going 40 yards for a touchdown, pushing the lead out to 31-7. Without Escobar's first down, the Jags likely get the ball back with good field position, trying to cut into a 17-point lead.