Don't Forget About These Five Plays: Stalled Drives Prevent Cowboys From Keeping Pace

ARLINGTON, Texas – This was supposed to be a showdown between two teams fighting for the division lead. Instead, it was more like a beat down as the Eagles handed the Cowboys a 33-10 defeat to take first place in the NFC East.

There were some big plays by both teams, but all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, yet end up playing a huge factor in the outcome. Here are five that changed this game:  

First drive stalled – Dallas allowed the Eagles to march for a drive to open the game, but the Cowboys were in the process of answering until a third-and-8 pass to Dez Bryant down the right sideline. It appeared Bryant's arm was held up by Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher. The ball fell incomplete with no call and the Cowboys had to punt. In a game like this where the Eagles offense was rolling, Dallas had to match them step for step. That was the first sign the Cowboys offense would have their troubles.

Frederick's quick snap – The Cowboys were trying to get back in the game and steal some momentum. They had finally held Philly to a field goal and, trailing 17-7, the Cowboys started a drive at their own 2 and had pounded the ball out to the 23. But on third-and-3, center Travis Fredrick appeared to deliver the shotgun snap too early, before any of his fellow linemen were out of their stance. Romo caught the ball but the pocket collapsed two quick, and he was smothered for a sack. The Cowboys were forced to punt and never got the ball past midfield for the rest of the half as the Eagles pushed the lead up to 16.

Crawford's sack leads to nothing – Tyrone Crawford has waited all season to finally get a sack and when he finally hit Mark Sanchez, the ball popped loose for a potential fumble. Had the Cowboys recovered, it would've put them in position to tie the game at 14 and have a new contest. Instead, the Eagles recovered, although it was still second-and-19. On the next play, Sanchez hits Jeremy Maclin for 58 yards and the Eagles kicked a field goal later in the drive.

Wilcox's holding penalty– The Eagles were driving just before halftime, leading 17-7, when it appeared the defense had just stopped Philly on third down at the 23. But safety J.J. Wilcox was flagged for defensive holding, giving the Eagles a first down. Instead of a 41-yard field goal, which would've given the Cowboys the ball back with three timeouts and the two-minute warning, the Eagles kicked a 22-yard field goal with just 1:39 left. Dallas responded with a fumble on the next drive. A stop there still makes it 20-7, but the Cowboys have more flexibility in the drive and could've possible driven for points. Instead it was 23-7 at the half. 

Murray stopped after fumble – The Cowboys got a huge gift early in the second half with a fumble recovery at the Eagles' 13. But after 9 yards by Murray on first down, his second-down run to the left was stuffed for a loss. Then on third down Romo was sacked when he felt pressure and dropped to the ground. That second down wasted a chance for the Cowboys to have first-and-goal inside the 5. Instead of 23-14 Eagles, it was 23-10.

(Bonus) Selvie's personal foul – With the Eagles leading 23-10, the Cowboys appeared to have either a sack or a third-and-long at least. George Selvie had Mark Sanchez in the clear for a sack, but the quarterback ducked down just in time for Selvie to grab his facemask, causing a first down and 15 yards. The Eagles added a touchdown run by LeSean McCoy a few plays later for a decisive 30-10 lead.

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