Dallas Cowboys: Five Important Plays in the Win over the 49ers

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 20: Running back Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 20: Running back Tony Pollard #20 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

Five plays that shaped the Dallas Cowboys win over the 49ers.

1. San Francisco penalty stalls their opening drive.

San Francisco started the game with the ball and Raheem Mostert immediately gained 9 yards on 2 carries to set up a 3rd and 1 from their own 34.  The 49ers quickly lined up for another run from Mostert, but were flagged for a false start.

Instead of needing an easy 1 yard, they were faced with 3rd and 6 and were forced to throw the ball.  The throw from Nick Mullens to Jordan Reed fell incomplete.  San Francisco was forced to punt instead of gaining a new set of downs.

2.Dallas is forced to punt again, but score 7 points instead.

After forcing the 49ers into a 3-and-out on their opening drive, Dallas returned the favor by gaining only 3 yards in 3 plays.

New punter Hunter Niswander put a perfect 59-yard punt inside the 49ers’ 5-yard line.  CJ Goodwin was able to grab the ball at the 1-yard line.  As the Cowboys were congratulating themselves on awesome special teams play, the referees announced a 5-yard illegal formation penalty forcing the Cowboys to punt again.

This time Niswander’s punt only traveled 52 yards and was returned by Richie James.  James was wrapped up by Dorance Armstrong around the San Francisco 24-yard line.  It looked like for a moment that the Cowboys were hit with what would amount to a 23-yard penalty.

Instead, Armstrong wasn’t just able to make the tackle, he also forced a fumble which he was also able to recover it (although it may have been recovered by the 49ers).  Instead of playing defense at the 24, the Cowboys sent their offense out basically in the redzone.  Just a few plays later Tony Pollard scored the game’s first touchdown from a yard out to take a lead that would never be relinquished.

3.Chido’s drop leads to seven points.

San Francisco fumbled the ball twice and Dallas was able to gain a 14-0 lead on touchdown drives of only 22 and 24 yards.  San Francisco received the ball down 14 and began marching downfield on a nice mix of the pass and run.

After driving 47 yards, the 49ers faced a 1st and 10 from the Dallas 28.  Nick Mullens looked to connect with Richie James, but threw slightly behind him.  Chidobe Awuzie was playing tight coverage and was able to reach out and get both hands on the ball.  What looked like a sure interception fell helplessly to the turf.

Having narrowly avoided their 3rd turnover in as many possessions, the 49ers scored on 5 yard pass to Jordan Reed 4 plays later.  Instead of possibly facing a 3-score lead after 3 consecutive turnovers, the 49ers were able to cut they Cowboys lead to just 7 points.

4.Dalton’s prayer is answered by CeeDee Lamb.

Once down by 14, the 49ers continued to fight back and had tied the game at 17 in the third quarter.

The Cowboys had the ball at their own 48-yard line needing 7 yards for a first on 3rd down.  Andy Dalton dropped back and was faced with near immediate pressure.  He was forced to sprint to his right and was able to heave the ball downfield off his back foot right before being hit by the pass rush.

The ball sailed down field and CeeDee Lamb was able to run under it despite 2 defenders near him.  He caught it at the 26 and was able to advance the ball down to the 12 before being forced out of bounds.  On the very next play Dalton Schultz caught a pass off of play-action for a touchdown.

The crucial third down conversion allowed the Cowboys to stay in the lead and force the 49ers to continue playing catch up.

5.The 49ers stop playing defense.

Throughout the game the Dallas Cowboys struggled to run the ball.  The running lanes just weren’t there and the Cowboys backs couldn’t generate yards after contact.

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Despite multiple turnovers, the 49ers kept fighting back and trailed by only 3 points in the fourth quarter.  The Cowboys offense was unable to do much of anything, having gained only 31 yards on their previous 5 drives combined.  The Cowboys’ saving grace was their defense giving them the ball in field goal range after an interception.

But following the 2nd Nick Mullens interception in the 4th quarter, Tony Pollard took a handoff from Andy Dalton on 2nd and 4 from the 49ers own 40 yard line.  He reached the right edge and found Richard Sherman directly in his path who was immediately juked out of his cleats.

Having gotten past Sherman, Tony Pollard was swallowed up by three San Francisco defenders, but he was able to spin and keep his legs moving and suddenly found himself alone at the 30 yard line because most of the San Francisco defenders had slowed down in anticipation of him being tackled by their teammates.  Pollard was able to out sprint everybody to the endzone.

Next. Tony Pollard over Zeke?. dark

A Dallas team that couldn’t play offense was suddenly up 10 points because the 49ers refused to play defense.

  • Published on 12/22/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 12/22/2020 at 10:08 AM