ARLINGTON, Texas – Sometimes it's just not your day. That was evident early for the Cowboys, who couldn't convert fourth downs and then couldn't stop Denver from moving up and down the field.
Even when they made plays like blocking a punt, it didn't turn out to help. The Cowboys took a beating here Sunday but like all games, there were plays that occurred that led to this outcome.
Here are the five "hidden" plays with a sixth play that can't be ignored as well.
Cowboys stopped on fourth down – While it was very early in the game, a message was sent on the first drive after the Cowboys returned the kickoff to midfield. But Denver not only stopped the Cowboys on four downs, it signaled a sign of overconfidence by the Cowboys and perhaps gave new confidence to the Broncos of what kind of day it was going to be.
Rookie RB gives Denver breathing room – After the Broncos' second straight fourth-down stop, Denver lost 3 yards on first down and faced a second-and-13 from its 17. But an 11-yard powerful run from rookie running back Javonte Williams gave the Broncos a manageable third down, which they converted. From there, the Broncos marched the rest of the way for a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead. As it turned out, Denver made a theme of this all day, turning at least three second-and-longs into third-and-short.
Third-down strike to Patrick – Early in the second quarter, the Broncos led 6-0 and were sitting at third-and-10 at their 45-yard line when Teddy Bridgewater dropped in a perfect throw to Tim Patrick for 11 yards in front of the Cowboys sideline. On the next play, Bridgewater threw another perfect strike to Patrick, who beat Trevon Diggs for a 44-yard touchdown.
Pollard's drop before half – Trailing 13-0 and desperately needing an offensive spark, the Cowboys were about to get a second straight first down, but Tony Pollard dropped an easy slant pass over the middle that would've been a big gain to midfield, if not farther. But the second-down drop led to third down and an incomplete pass, forcing yet another punt.
Punt block that wasn't – You know it's not your day when you block a punt and still don't get a turnover on downs. Even without a block by Malik Turner, the Cowboys are getting the ball around midfield down 16-0 to start the second half. But a crazy sequence saw the deflection bounce off of Nahshon Wright and into the hands of Jonas Griffith, resulting in a rare ruling that gave Denver a first down. The Broncos were able to drive for a field goal and a 19-0 lead.
Cooper's drop over the middle – There were a lot of dropped passes in this game, but a third-down miscue by Amari Cooper in the third quarter was as big as any. As Dak Prescott was getting blitzed, he fired a pass to Cooper, who had broken away and seemed to have plenty of room to run into Denver territory. But he dropped the pass and the Cowboys failed to convert on fourth down, keeping the score at 19-0.