The most important plays in the Dallas Cowboys games you may have forgotten.
Dallas Cowboys punt on 4th and 1
This was really early in the game on Dallas’ second possession. The Dallas Cowboys already found themselves down by 11 points by allowing the Eagles to score on a 11 play, 78-yard drive and then an 81-yard pass from Jalen Hurts to Desean Jackson.
On 3rd and 4, Kellen Moore called an inside zone run to Ezekiel Elliot that only gained 3 yards, which only makes sense if you’re already committed to going for it on 4th down. On 4th and 1 (a down and distance that is converted about 71% of the time) the Cowboys punted in a game they absolutely have to win if they are serious about making the playoffs.
Not that this should be taken into account by a coach, but this is almost the exact moment that the Carolina Panthers went up 13-0 on the Washington Football Team. Mike McCarthy suddenly is getting super-conservative on 4th downs trying to make the playoffs with Washington helping out.
Fletcher Cox gets injured
As soon as I saw Fletcher Cox on the sidelines in his shoulder pads early in the 2nd quarter I made note of this play because I knew one way or another it would be important. At that point the ESPN Gamecast had Philly with a 79.1% win chance. Little did I know at that time that they Dallas Cowboys offense would explode for 34 points without Cox on the field.
If you gave me the option of choosing one player from the Eagles to play for the Cowboys, it would probably be Fletcher Cox. Cox is one of the best defensive linemen in the NFL and constantly lives in the Dallas Cowboys backfield when these two teams play. His absence was a huge hit to the Philly defense. With his consistent pressure on quarterbacks, it takes a lot of pressure off Philly’s subpar secondary which Andy Dalton was able to torch for 377 yards.
Mike McCarthy doesn’t challenge the spot
Trailing by 4 points, the Dallas Cowboys had the ball 2nd and goal from the 4 yard line. Dalton turns and hands off to Elliott who officially gained 3 yards to the Philly 1-yard line. However it looked on replay that Zeke extended the ball into the end zone before his backside touched the ground. The Cowboys quickly ran their 3rd and goal play with 15 seconds remaining on the play clock and failed to convert, settling for 3 points.
Had Mike McCarthy taken the time to review the play I believe it had a fantastic chance of being overturned, giving the Cowboys 7 points, not 3.
It’s extremely frustrating to see that the Cowboys can never quickly snap the ball when a team may challenge one of their successful plays, but they have no problems hurrying up on a play that ultimately cost them 4 points by not challenging themselves.
CeeDee converts 3rd down
The Cowboys found themselves down 4 points near the end of the 1st half. The score was 17-13 and with little time on the clock the Cowboys had driven 49 yards and faced a 3rd and 3, possibly having to settle for a field goal and a 1-point deficit. However, Dalton completed a quick throw to CeeDee Lamb for 7 yards and a first down. The Cowboys immediately called their final timeout.
Two completions to Michael Gallup in a row for 26 combined yards later, the Cowboys led by 3 points and would never trail again.
Flags galore on Eagles after Slay interception
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In the 3rd quarter the Cowboys held a 13-point lead and were having difficulty extending that lead. After Philadelphia was called for a delay of game when they were attempting to convert a 4th down they decided to punt. Three plays later Dalton attempted to hit CeeDee Lamb, but Darius Slay sprinted over and secured his first interception of the season, and then returned it all the way to the Dallas 28 yard line.
On 2nd and 10 Philly running back Miles Sanders ran for an 18-yard gain, but it was called back due to a holding call several yards downfield. Instead of first and goal from the 10, the Eagles faced 2nd and 13.
Before the Eagles could snap the ball again, Zach Ertz was flagged for a false start to make it 2nd and 18. Jalen Hurts then threw incomplete to Jalen Reagor before another false start. A drive that started for Philly 1st and 10 at the Dallas 28, was now 3rd and 23 from the Dallas 41.
The Eagles were able to gain 8 yards on 3rd down to set up 4th and 15. Facing a 13-point deficit Doug Pederson decided this was the time to try and convert a 4th down instead of attempting a 51-yard field goal.
Predictably, they were unable to convert the long yardage and Dallas took over on downs. A potential game-changing interception turned out to be nothing more than a drain on the clock, and this was the first of 4 consecutive Philadelphia turnovers to end the game.
- Published on 12/28/2020 at 12:01 PM
- Last updated at 12/28/2020 at 08:48 AM