ARLINGTON, Texas – This game had one-handed catches by a future Hall of Famer. It had a veteran linebacker making people miss in the open field, and it had a couple of long touchdowns by the Cowboys, who cruised to a surprising 44-21 win.
But all games have other plays that might go unnoticed, yet still are a factor in the outcome. Here are the five you can't forget about:
Woods stuffs Gurley for loss – Obviously the focus for the defense was to stop the Rams' running game with Todd Gurley, especially after last year's playoff win in which they ran all over the Cowboys. One player who didn't play all of that game was Antwaun Woods, who had a shoulder injury in the playoffs and missed the last few games with a knee injury this year. Woods returned and stopped Gurley for a 3-yard loss on first down at the Cowboys' 41. That started to turn the momentum back the other way after a crazy start to the game. The Rams eventually punted, but it was Woods' tackle on Gurley that turned the tide and set the tone for a strong day against the run.
Offsetting penalties gives new life – On third-and-9 from their own 34-yard line in the first quarter, the Cowboys were about to punt when they were flagged for holding and Dak Prescott threw an interception on the sideline. But a pass interference call on the Rams led to offsetting penalties and a replay of the down. On the next play, Amari Cooper caught a 19-yard pass over the middle for a first down. The Cowboys were able to keep the drive alive and find the end zone moments later for a 7-0 lead.
Jarwin's first down on the 97-yard drive – The Cowboys led 14-7 but faced third-and-4 from their own 9-yard line. Without a first down there, the Cowboys would've likely punted to midfield and given the Rams a great chance to score and perhaps tie the game. But a quick out to Blake Jarwin netted 20 yards and a first down out to the 29. That got the Cowboys some breathing room and they continued to move the ball, getting five more first downs, including a fourth-and-1 sneak at the Rams' 7-yard line. Eventually, Ezekiel Elliott scored from 1-yard out to give the Cowboys a 21-7 lead, but it all started with the pass to Jarwin.
Brockers' penalty before halftime – The Cowboys were already up by 14 and figured to get a 17-point lead heading into halftime when Prescott's third-down pass fell incomplete with just 20 seconds left. However, the Rams' were flagged for illegal use of hands by Michael Brockers. That moved the ball to the 2-yard line and gave Dallas a first down. From there, Elliott scored to push the lead to 28-7, putting the game seemingly out of reach.
Getting the ball to start the second half – While there was a ton of confusion about the coin toss and who would get the ball to start the second half, it shouldn't be overlooked how things turned out for Dallas. Leading 28-7, the Cowboys indeed got the ball to start the third quarter and were able to drive the field and get a 50-yard field goal by Kai Forbath to push the lead to 31-7. Had the Rams got the ball to start, especially considering how quiet opposing stadiums tend to be after the half, they could've driven for a touchdown and cut the lead to 14 points. Instead, it was a 24-point advantage for the Cowboys and they never looked back.