Jeff Heath's performance pretty much epitomized the Cowboys' 10-6 loss Sunday – and to some extent, this entire seven-game stretch without a victory.
Good effort and some winning-type plays. Then, a disappointing finish.
The third-year safety stopped two Tampa Bay drives inside the 30-yard line with a pair of interceptions, twice preserving a 6-3 Cowboys lead.
Then, on the Buccaneers' final drive of the fourth quarter, facing third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, rookie quarterback Jameis Winston lost the ball as he dove toward the goal line. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence recovered the fumble, which would've given the Cowboys possession with a three-point lead and only 59 seconds left.
The officials, however, called Heath for holding wide receiver Russell Shepard near the goal line.
Takeaway reversed, fresh set of downs for Tampa Bay. On the next play, Winston faked a handoff and ran untouched for a 1-yard touchdown and the deciding score.
Afterward, Heath didn't dispute the call.
"Where they threw the flag, I didn't know if it was on me," he said. "I thought it might have been something on the other side of the field. But no, they made the right call, I think. I have to be more disciplined in that situation."
Overall, Heath had a productive game that kept the Cowboys competitive. He had two tackles, and his two interceptions (one from the Dallas 26-yard line in the second quarter, the other from the Dallas 23 in the fourth quarter) increased the defense's season total to five.
It was the first multi-interception game by a Cowboys player this season. And for only the third time this season, the Cowboys won the turnover battle.
"Yeah, just did a really good job. He was around the ball a lot," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He made some tackles then made two signature plays taking the ball away down in the red areas."
But Heath was disappointed with the final drive. For the third straight game, the opposing offense had the deciding score in the fourth quarter or overtime.
"Those were big plays for us, but the penalty was bigger," he said. "It's really frustrating right now."