ARLINGTON, Texas – There was a 40-yard touchdown by Amari Cooper, who then more than doubled that with a 90-yard scamper later in the quarter.
There were big-time interceptions and a scramble score by Dak Prescott that was one of the best plays of his career. Those plays will definitely fill up the highlight package in this 31-23 win.
But like all games, there are several plays that go unnoticed, or could be overlooked. Still, they play a huge role in the eventual outcome. Let’s look at five plays that changed the direction of this game.
Brown picks off McCoy early – It wasn’t the best pick of the day for the Cowboys, but it was definitely important. Early in the game, the Cowboys led 7-0 but Washington’s drive was stalled by Anthony Brown, who stepped in front of Colt McCoy’s pass to the left sideline, keeping the Cowboys in the lead and the Redskins off the board.
Dak avoids sack, finds Gallup – With the game tied, 7-7, the Cowboys were looking to drive for points but it appeared as if Prescott was about to take a sack when he lowered his shoulder to brace for contact. But the big-bodied quarterback was able to stay upright and find Michael Gallup for a 12-yard gain and a first down. Instead of having a fourth down from around the 35 and staring a 50-plus-yard field goal attempt in the face, the drive was extended and it led to a shorter kick from Brett Maher and a 10-7 lead.
LVE stops Peterson in the flat – The Cowboys looked like they were getting off the field to start the third quarter, but a holding call on Byron Jones gave the Redskins new life. It might not have seemed like a big play at the time, but Leighton Vander Esch stopped Adrian Peterson for no gain on second down. Peterson had a lot of room in the open field but the rookie was able to stop the future Hall of Famer in his tracks. That led to just a short rush by McCoy on third down, forcing a punt and keeping the Cowboys ahead, 10-7.
False start prevents FG attempt – The Redskins were down 17-13 in the third quarter but on the move for points. On third-and-1 at the Cowboys’ 33-yard line, they were flagged for a false start by Maurice Harris, which pushed them back to the 36. On the next play, the Redskins threw an incomplete pass but since the penalty moved them out of field goal range, they were forced to punt. Two plays later, the Cowboys went 90 yards on a pass from Prescott to Amari Cooper for a huge turn of events.
Redskins’ penalty nets more time – Dallas led by 11 after a Redskins touchdown, and while they were in control, the momentum was fading. It appeared the Cowboys were about to punt after missing a third down from their 38, but the drive was extended by a holding call on Redskins cornerback Fabian Moreau in the secondary. Instead of having to punt with 8:43 left, the Cowboys got another first down and eventually gave the ball back to Washington with 5:33 remaining .