ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys had so many chances to build a big lead in the first quarter of this game. Instead, they were scrambling just to tie the game before the half.
But in the second half, the Cowboys never scored again and that's why they're on the wrong side of a 28-14 decision to the Titans.
Throughout every game, there are several moments or 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 loss near goal line – The Cowboys had already suffered a three-yard loss on the first possession that led to a missed field goal by Brett Maher. But two drives later, looking to build on a 7-0 lead, the Cowboys had first-and-goal on the 4. But Ezekiel Elliott was dropped for a 2-yard loss. The next play prompted Dallas to pass and Prescott was picked off trying to force the ball into double coverage to Amari Cooper. With a shot to make it 10-0 or even 14-0, the Cowboys failed to get up by two scores and it started with that first-down run.
Overturning the fumble – The Cowboys had just thrown an interception in the end zone, but seemed to collect their third straight turnover when the refs ruled a fumble recovered by Jaylon Smith again. However, replay officials ruled that Luke Stocker never had possession of the ball for an incomplete pass. On the next play, the Titans completed another pass that appeared to be incomplete, at least enough for Jason Garrett to challenge the play. That also went Tennessee's way and it led to a game-tying touchdown.
Timeout prevents Cowboys' sack – With the game tied 7-7 late in the second quarter, the Cowboys appeared to have a third-down sack when Daniel Ross dropped Mariota for a loss. But the Titans had called a timeout just before the snap. On the ensuing snap, still third-and-10, Mariota fired a strike to Darius Jennings for a 36-yard gain, right in between two defenders. That play led to a touchdown and a 14-7 lead.
Another O-line setback – After struggling through the previous game with penalties and sacks allowed, the offensive line was playing well in the first half. But with the game tied 14-14 and the Cowboys on the move, a holding call on rookie Connor Williams put the Cowboys in another hole on first-and-20. Two short gains led to another offensive line penalty (false start by La'el Collins) and on third-and-long, Prescott was sacked and fumbled. The Titans not only recovered, but scored the go-ahead touchdown just a few plays later.
Missed FG leads to nothing – While it was a shock that Titans kicker Ryan Succop missed a 28-yard field goal that would've given Tennessee a 10-point lead, the Cowboys did nothing with the momentum. Taking over at their own 20, the Cowboys went backwards, with a sack on Dak Prescott, who simply ran out of bounds. Dak was sacked again on third down and the Cowboys punted from their own 10. The Titans were able to put the game away with a touchdown on the next drive.