ARLINGTON, Texas – For three quarters, it was a defensive struggle. After that, the fireworks went off and neither team could be stopped.
There were big plays throughout the second half and overtime, but some game-altering plays occurred from the opening kickoff – literally.
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 one, with a bonus play this week.
Eagles not awarded fumble on kickoff – Not everyone was in their seats yet when one of the biggest plays of the game took place. The officials on the field ruled that Jourdan Lewis was down and there was no fumble on the opening kickoff. Replay officials showed that Lewis clearly fumbled, but the officials didn’t have a definitive recovery from the Eagles. After the game, referee Clete Blakeman was asked by the pool reporter about the play. “We confirmed there was a fumble in the replay review. (But) we couldn’t confirm with the angles we had on video to make it a clear recovery by Philadelphia, so we had to stay with the ruling on the field.” The Eagles didn’t get the ball inside Dallas’ 20-yard line, the ball instead going back to the Cowboys.
Dak’s favorable incomplete pass – He only threw 12 incomplete passes all day, which is amazing considering Dak Prescott had 54 attempts. But one of them might’ve led to a field goal. Right before the half, with 4 seconds left, he threw incomplete pass on a quick attempt to Michael Gallup. Had the ball hung up for one more second or even been caught, the half would have been over. Instead, one second remained on the clock and the Cowboys were able to give Brett Maher the chance to kick a 62-yard field goal, setting a franchise record for the longest kick in team history.
Eagles miss first extra point – The Cowboys led 9-0, but Prescott’s interception led to an Eagles’ touchdown with the momentum shifting quickly in the third quarter. However, kicker Jake Elliott sailed his extra point to the right, leaving the Cowboys up by three. From there, the two teams eventually played to overtime, proving how costly that miss was for the Eagles.
Ertz flagged for illegal block – Early in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were up 9-6 but Philly was on the move. With first-and-goal from the Eagles’ 8-yard line, tight end Zach Ertz was called for an illegal block in the back, wiping out a 4-yard pass to Darren Sproles. From there, the Eagles went backward to the 17 and could only reach the 8-yard line again after three plays, forcing another a field goal by Elliott, who tied the game instead of the Eagles grabbing the lead.
Eagles’ penalty extends drive – In the final two minutes of regulation, the Cowboys were trying to get a game-winning field goal but on third-and-2 from their own 38, the drive was extended thanks to a holding penalty on Philadelphia in pass coverage. Instead of having to punt the ball to the Eagles, who could’ve drove the field for their own field goal, the Cowboys kept the ball on offense and eventually ran off the clock. They didn’t score and the game went to the overtime, where the Eagles defense had to go back on the field and couldn’t keep Dallas out of the end zone.
Zeke gets half the yardage back – In overtime, the Cowboys had a second-and-19 from midfield after a penalty on Tyron Smith. Prescott found Ezekiel Elliott out of the backfield for one of his 12 catches, resulting in a 10-yard gain. That was big because on third-and-9, a more manageable down-and-distance, Prescott then hit Amari Cooper over the middle for 12 yards to move the chains. Without Elliott’s 10-yard play, the third-down would’ve been tougher because of the Philadelphia defense. But being at the 40, and knowing Maher had already made a long kick, the Eagles had to play third down differently and the Cowboys took advantage.