Entering Sunday and considering the trouble Arizona had caused the Cowboys with special teams and defensive touchdowns the last few years, a major concern was the potential impact of dynamic returner Patrick Peterson.
However, his impact in the kicking game was completely negated by Cowboys punter Mat McBriar, who easily turned in his best game of the year, rebounding from a pretty poor stretch by his standards that included a very rough game against Washington.
McBriar had been hobbled by an injury to his plant foot, but is now close to full health. Punting on short fields for much of the day, his five kicks respectively pinned the Cardinals offense at their 11, 10, 3, 20 and 5-yard line, and Peterson only had one return opportunity, gaining just a single yard.
"I feel like I'm punting better and better in practice," McBriar said. "It's not the pain that I was experiencing, so at least that's gone."
McBriar also resumed his holding duties, taking over for Tony Romo. He said from his vantage point, the field goal operation was good-to-go when coach Jason Garrett called a timeout that had the effect of icing kicker Dan Bailey.
Garrett was attempting to give the field goal unit the best chance to execute with time winding down on the play clock.
"I thought we had time to get it off the first time," McBriar said. "At 15 (seconds), Dan's taking his steps back already, guys are getting set up. My last glimpse at the clock was about eight seconds, I think. So then I looked back at Dan, by that time thinking, OK, we're fine. We've got everyone set, but for whatever reason, timeout was called."
McBriar blamed himself in some part for Bailey's missed second attempt at the end of regulation.
"It wasn't a great hold," McBriar said. "I was trying to get the laces around. I don't know if I got them all the way."