NEW ORLEANS – When you only score 10 points, there are seemingly tons of plays that can be pointed to as missed opportunities.
Both Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliott had costly fumbles and there were other key plays the Cowboys didn’t convert. Here are the five biggest that you can’t forget about:
Dak misses Cobb for early TD – When a team is averaging more than 31 points per game, you don’t necessarily think the first drive of the game is going to be that pivotal. It hasn’t been for the Cowboys so far this year. But on third-and-9 from the Saints’ 10-yard line, Dak Prescott rolled to his left and found Randall Cobb in the back of the end zone coming across the field. Prescott fired a pass across his body and couldn’t connect with Cobb on what would’ve been an early touchdown. The field goal instead proved to be a difference maker in the two-point loss.
Cooper’s first PI just as costly – The Cowboys trailed 6-3 late in the first half but were on the move, especially after a 14-yard catch by Amari Cooper to the Dallas 48. But Cooper was flagged for offensive pass interference, the officials saying the receiver pushed off when he was hand-fighting at the line of scrimmage. That penalty moved the Cowboys back to first-and-20 at their own 24-yard line. Dallas was able to get to fourth-and-1 at the 43 and Ezekiel Elliott converted the first down. But the officials ruled that he fumbled. The Saints got the ball and added a field goal.
“D-Law” penalty extends drive – Just before halftime, the Cowboys had forced what would have been a long field-goal attempt by the Saints after an incomplete pass. However, DeMarcus Lawrence was flagged for roughing the passer with a low hit on Teddy Bridgewater. The 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the 12 and the Saints were able to not only get a makeable field goal but it prevented the Cowboys from the getting the ball back. Not only would Wil Lutz had to have made a 45-yard kick, the Cowboys would’ve had 30 seconds and enough timeouts to get a field goal attempt of their own.
Missed tackle on Kamara – The Cowboys had just grabbed a 10-9 lead in the third quarter after a lengthy scoring drive. On first down at the 25, the Saints gave the ball to a sweeping Alvin Kamara around the edge but the Cowboys had it sniffed out. Sean Lee was there for what would have been a 2-yard loss but he missed the tackle, as did Leighton Vander Esch, allowing Kamara to rip off 9 yards. The Saints were stopped short on second down but converted on third down. Had the Cowboys been able to get off the field and get the ball back with a 10-9 lead, it could’ve been different. Instead, the Saints marched down and took the lead with a drive that went into the fourth quarter.
Third-down miss to Cobb again – Just like they failed to connect early in the game, Prescott and Cobb didn’t convert a big third-and-2 in the fourth quarter. Cobb was streaking across the field, but Prescott’s pass was a little behind the veteran receiver. Instead of stopping to secure the catch, Cobb tried to make the reception on the run and just dropped the pass. It wasn’t Prescott’s best throw, but it was one that should’ve been caught for a first down. Instead, the Cowboys had to punt.