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Post-Bye Drama Includes Odell's Catch, OT Wins 


With the way the NFL is always changing, it can be rather difficult to pinpoint and exact a trend to anything.

What might have happened five years ago, doesn't always relate to today's game.

That may or may not be the case with the Cowboys and their recent history coming off bye weeks. Since Jason Garrett became the full-time head coach in 2011, the Cowboys are 4-3 in the games immediately following their break.

Now that could be expected, considering that Garrett's overall record is a little above .500 at 70-57.

But a trend that must be worth noting is the type of game the Cowboys have been playing in these post-bye weeks. And if it continues next Monday when the Cowboys take on the Titans, just be prepared for some drama all the way until the end.

Aside from last year's blowout win over the 49ers, the Cowboys have managed to play every one of these games after the bye week all the way to the final minute, and even to the final seconds in some cases.

You've got overtime wins, last-second field goals as time expires, touchdowns in the final seconds, missed field goals at the buzzer and just about any other way you can win or lose a game at the end.


2011 – Patriots 20, Cowboys 16

The Cowboys went into Foxboro and had plenty of chances to steal a win from Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Leading by three with the ball in the final three minutes, the Cowboys couldn't get a much-needed first down. Instead, Brady got the ball back and went to work, finding Wes Welker four times on the final drive, which resulted in a go-ahead touchdown to Aaron Hernandez with just 22 seconds left, giving New England the win.


2012 – Ravens 31, Cowboys 29

This was one of the first games where Garrett was criticized heavily for clock management. Down by eight in the final minute, the Cowboys scored on a touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Dez Bryant, but the ensuing two-point conversion try was no good. With just 32 seconds left, Andre Holmes recovered Dan Bailey's onside kick, giving the Cowboys another shot. After a pass interference penalty on the Ravens, the Cowboys had first down at the Baltimore 34 with 26 seconds and a timeout. However, they managed just 1 yard and called timeout with 6 seconds left, giving Bailey a 51-yard attempt to win the game. He pulled the kick just to the left and the Cowboys went away with a disappointing loss.


2013 – Cowboys 24, Giants 21

Entering the game with a 5-5 record, the Cowboys needed to steal a road win at the Meadowlands in the worst way. Leading 21-6 in the third quarter after Jason Witten caught his second touchdown pass, the Cowboys couldn't hold on to the lead for long. Eli Manning threw two scores and the Giants rallied to tie the game. But with 4:45 to play, Romo executed a masterful 14-play drive that chewed up the entire clock. This time, Bailey drilled the game-winning kick from 35 yards to give Dallas the win and a season sweep of the Giants.


2014 – Cowboys 31, Giants 28

For the second straight year, the Cowboys went to New York following the bye, and this game will always be remembered for another reason: Odell Beckham's remarkable one-handed catch will go down as one of the best plays in NFL history. It also gave the underdog Giants a 14-3 lead. But the Cowboys rallied behind Romo, who threw four touchdown passes. On the final possession, trailing 28-24, he led the Cowboys on an 80-play scoring drive.


2015 – Giants 27, Cowboys 20

This time it was the Giants that pulled out a late victory, as the Cowboys faced New York following the bye week for a third straight year. The Cowboys had just tied the game in the fourth quarter on a Devin Street touchdown, but it was a former drafted receiver, now playing for the Giants, who doomed them. Dwayne Harris returned the kickoff 101 yards for the game-winning touchdown, dropping the Cowboys to a fourth straight loss. While it was the first start for Matt Cassel, it was a great rushing day for Darren McFadden, who became just the second player in franchise history to rush for over 150 yards (152) in a losing effort.


2016 – Cowboys 29, Eagles 23 (OT)

Dak Prescott's game-winning touchdown to Witten in the end zone lifted the Cowboys to a sixth straight win, proving that the bye certainly didn't stop their momentum. Prescott struggled for most of the night, but engineered an 11-play, 90-yard drive in regulation, ending with a 22-yard scoring pass to Bryant to tie the game. Then in overtime, the quarterback led a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped by his scrambling touchdown throw to Witten. The Cowboys used that momentum to win five straight games and eventually get to 11-1.


2017 – Cowboys 40, 49ers 10

After six straight games with heart-stopping finishes, the Cowboys put this one away rather early, dominating the 49ers by 30 points. Ezekiel Elliott caught a 72-yard touchdown and Witten hauled in a one-handed scoring catch. The defense had five sacks and forced three turnovers, and safety Jeff Heath filled in for an injured Bailey to not only handle all of the kickoffs, but also make two extra points.