*INDIANAPOLIS – *When you can't score and can't stop them, it's always tough to win. That was the case here at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Cowboys found themselves on the wrong side of a 23-0 loss to the Colts.
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.
Zeke stopped for 3-yard loss – On the Cowboys' first drive of the game, the offense was on the move, converting first downs by both rush and pass. After a 9-yard pass to Cole Beasley, the Cowboys had second-and-1 from the Colts' 27. However, Zeke was dropped for a 3-yard loss right in the middle of the line. That led to a third down where Dak's deep ball to Allen Hurns was incomplete. On fourth down, the field goal attempt was blocked and that seemed to set the tone for the day. But that second-down loss is where it began.
Olawale drops sure TD – This play likely won't be forgotten, but needs to be included considering how much the game changed afterward. On third-and-1 from the Colts' 3 early in the second quarter, the Cowboys had fullback Jamize Olawale wide open in the flat for a walk-in touchdown. Dak made sure to loft the ball and create a soft pass but it still couldn't be corralled by the fullback, who dropped it, wasting a chance to score. On fourth down, the Cowboys were stuffed and Zeke even fumbled the ball.
Failed series after first down – Here's not just one play, but four straight that went nowhere for the Cowboys, who had just picked up a first down at the Colts' 38 with 3:45 left in the half. But a 1-yard run by Zeke, a missed deep ball to Noah Brown, followed by a 10-yard sack on Dak and then a punt, which included a 10-yard holding call on the snapper L.P. Ladouceur, moved the Colts out from their own 6 to the 16, allowing them to be more aggressive in what was eventually a field goal drive. A few more yards, and the Cowboys theoretically could've been down at least 7-3. Instead it was a two-score game.
Late flag on Brown – On the Colts' final possession of the first half, it appeared the defense had made a stop to get off the field on third down. But way after the incomplete pass by Luck, the sideline official threw a flag on a holding call by Anthony Brown. The refs said the penalty occurred even before the pass. That gave the Colts a first down and it led to an Adam Vinatieri field goal of 42 yards, giving Indy a 10-0 lead at the half.
Jarwin open but can't convert – With the Cowboys desperately needing to score points on their first offensive possession of the second half, Blake Jarwin was wide open down the field on third-and-2 but Dak Prescott's pass was way underthrown. Jarwin tried to come back and make the catch but the ball was knocked out of his hands incomplete. On fourth down, the Cowboys converted a pass to Beasley but once again, a holding call stalled the drive and led to a punt. But the Cowboys had schemed a play to get Jarwin open but the quarterback and receiver couldn't convert.