LANDOVER, Md. – In between the big plays, the touchdowns and costly turnovers, all games have those hidden plays that can easily be forgotten.
Sunday's game with Washington certainly had them as well. Here are the five you can't forget about that played a big factor in the outcome.
- Tone-setting first play from scrimmage – Sometimes the tone can be set early. In this case, Washington ran a simple halfback dive up the middle. Peyton Barber was met by a host of defenders at the line of scrimmage, but instead of getting just a yard, Barber spun away and dragged some defenders for about 4 yards. That's the kind of play the Cowboys gave up all day, allowing Washington to squeeze out extra yards. The last thing that offense needed was to be in a lot of third-and-long situations and plays like that were the reasons why they stayed out of them.
- Botched third-down screen – After the Cowboys got down 9-0, Tony Pollard gave the team some life with a 67-yard kickoff return. But after just 6 yards on the first two downs, the Cowboys tried a receiver screen to CeeDee Lamb. The play was actually ruled a running play with the backwards pass. But the Cowboys couldn't get it blocked and Lamb was only able to get a yard. The Cowboys got a field goal, but after the big return, only coming up with three points was a huge momentum shift.
- Dalton comes up short; Cowboys can't convert fourth-down – Early in the second quarter, the Cowboys were in the middle of their most productive drive when Andy Dalton scrambled on third-and-5 and dove for the marker. While it was close to a first down, he was ruled down just short of the sticks. Still, the Cowboys had no confidence they could get a yard on fourth down running the ball and so called a pass that was blown up, forcing Dalton to throw the ball deep and incomplete, turning the ball over to Washington at its own 45-yard line. Two plays later, it was a touchdown to Terry McLaurin for a 15-3 lead.
- Allen's scramble saves the drive – After Washington's drive was already aided by a penalty on Leighton Vander Esch on third down, the Cowboys, trailing 15-3 late in the first half, forced Washington into a third-and-9 near midfield. Although two defenders seemingly had him wrapped up for a sack, Kyle Allen avoided it and ran 13 yards for a first down. That kept the drive alive and Washington found the end zone again just five plays later for a 22-3 advantage.
- Lamb can't grab TD catch – It was a rough day for rookie Lamb, who had trouble catching passes in the rain. Among some of his big drops was a play in the end zone before halftime. While it would've been a good catch in traffic, those are the expectations for Lamb. The incomplete pass was arguably one of the best chances the Cowboys had to score. On the next play, Dalton's pass was behind Ezekiel Elliott, who dropped it, resulting in a tipped interception, ending the half at 22-3.