Don't Forget About These Five: Untimely Penalties Were Costly

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BALTIMORE – This game went back and forth with the momentum swinging all afternoon. In the end, the Cowboys didn't have enough as Dan Bailey's field goal sailed to the left and the Ravens prevailed 31-29.

As usual, there were some plays that might be overlooked, but still played a big part. Here's a handful of plays or events that altered the flow of the game.

1. First illegal shift – The Cowboys had several penalty issues, committing 13 for nearly 100 yards again. An illegal shift call in the second quarter likely took points off the board. The Cowboys already led 7-3 and had third-and-4 from the Ravens' 12. Felix Jones rushed for six yards to the 6 setting up a first-and-goal. But the refs flagged the offense for two players moving at the same time without getting set. Kevin Ogletree was in motion and was moving forward when the ball was snapped. The Cowboys then had third-and-9 and couldn't covert, settling for a field goal and a 10-3 lead.

2. Romo's interception – With Tony Romo, most interceptions are not forgotten. In the second quarter, the Cowboys and Ravens were tied 10-10, but the offense was driving into Baltimore territory. Once again, penalties pushed them back behind the chains and on third-and-10 from the Ravens' 35, Romo was flushed out of the pocket and threw an off-balanced interception over the middle at the 20. Had the Cowboys simply run a draw play and settled for a field goal, they could've had the lead at halftime. Instead, the pick gave Baltimore the momentum and the Ravens went down and scored a touchdown. On the pick, Romo, Dez Bryant and just about every offensive coach were screaming for a pass-interference or illegal contact penalty on the Ravens for grabbing Kevin Ogletree on the route.

3. Ravens TD; Claiborne injured – The Ravens took advantage of the turnover and marched down the field just before halftime. Joe Flacco's 19-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith likely should've been an offensive pass interference penalty. The refs instead flagged Morris Claiborne, who was shoved to the ground by Smith. On the play, Claiborne injured his knee while Smith scored. The call would've only been offsetting penalties since the Cowboys couldn't get Jason Hatcher off the field in time. Making matters worse apart from the touchdown, NFL rules state an injury in the final two minutes of the half, even on a scoring play with the clock stopped, results in a timeout against the team whose player is hurt. The Cowboys went from two to one timeout and when they got the ball back with 35 seconds on their own 30, and decided to kneel on the ball and go into the locker room down 17-10. Had they had two timeouts, perhaps they're more aggressive to get into field goal range.

4. Illegal shift II– The Cowboys trailed just 24-20 but the momentum was swinging their way again early in the fourth. Despite DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones both out with injuries, the combination of Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar were moving the ball. On first-and-goal from the 10, the Cowboys had another illegal shift penalty with Ogletree again leaning forward before the snap. That pushed the ball back to first-and-goal from the 15. The Cowboys had to settle for another field goal and remained behind 24-23.

5. Ravens timeout – Just before the Cowboys were about to attempt an onside kick and as Dan Bailey was preparing to boot the ball to the right side of the field, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh called a timeout to give  his return unit a better look at the play. Bailey called it a "cat-and-mouse" game by the Ravens. However, the Cowboys decided to switch up their strategy and went for the middle dribble kick that was successfully recovered by Andre Holmes. However, as the Cowboys attempted the game-winning kick in the final play, Harbaugh elected not to freeze Bailey with a timeout. The Cowboys certainly were hoping Harbaugh had called a timeout as the kick sailed wide left. 

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