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Don’t Forget About These Five: 12th Man & Costly Challenge

Posted Oct 12, 2014


SEATTLE– The Cowboys needed another fourth-quarter comeback to outlast the Super Bowl champs in their own house. Tony Romo’s fourth-quarter drive included a huge third-and-20 conversion to Terrance Williams, along with powerful runs by DeMarco Murray, who scored the go-ahead touchdown.

But all games have those hidden plays that can be forgotten, but ended up playing a huge factor in the outcome.

And here are a handful of plays that changed this game:

1. Church Breakup – In Seattle’s opening drive of the game, the Seahawks were knocking on the door for an early touchdown. Russell Wilson had third-and-11 at the Cowboys’ 15 and went over the middle to Doug

Baldwin, who had the ball in his hands momentarily at the goal line. But safety Barry Church decked him to the ground, jarring the ball loose and forcing an incomplete pass. That’s a four-point difference and considering the ensuing punt was blocked for a touchdown. It could’ve been 14-0 instead of just 10-0 early on.

2. Dunbar in the flat – Still in the first quarter, the Cowboys are down 10-0 and facing a third-and-3 at their own 27. A punt here and it’s going to likely be a long afternoon. The Cowboys put Lance Dunbar in the game as the third-down back, hoping for a mismatch with a linebacker. That’s what they got and Romo hit Dunbar on the left side for a six-yard gain and a crucial first down. On the next play, another running back Joseph Randle ripped off a 38-yard run that flipped the field and put Dallas in position to score its first touchdown.

3. An illegal 12th Man – Seattle loves to call its fan the “12th man” but it was a 12th player that hurt the Seahawks before halftime. The Cowboys had a difficult second-and-10 to get but were aided by a penalty on Seattle for having 12 players on the field just before the snap. That put the ball at the 5 and after two plays, the Cowboys took the lead on a touchdown pass from Romo to Jason Witten. Without the penalty, scoring from the 10 would’ve been much more difficult.

4. Big strike to Williams – The third-and-20 conversion to Terrance Williams was likely the play of the game. But Williams’ other catch – his only other catch – might have been just as clutch, especially from a momentum-standpoint. After Seattle had scored 10 straight

after a pair of turnovers, the Cowboys had first down at their own 19.  The crowd was on its feet and the Seahawks’ defenders were hyped up and dancing around before the snap. But Romo went on the attack and fired a deep strike to Williams for a 47-yard gain. Even with Williams’ delay of game penalty for throwing the ball down the field after the play, it gave Dallas great field position and Dan Bailey booted a 56-yard kick to tie the game again 20-20.

5. Seattle’s challenge – Sure, we remember Terrance Williams coming down with the 20-yard gain. (And that was set up by a huge third-down catch earlier in the drive by Dez Bryant that could’ve been on the list, too). But just as important as the catch was the challenge Seattle attempted and lost. Pete Carroll tossed the red flag on the ground, hoping replay officials would rule that Williams either didn’t have his feet in bounds or was juggling the ball as he went out. But Williams indeed got his feet down, confirming the call. That took another timeout away from Seattle and later in the game, when the Seahawks had a fourth down at their 23 with 2:40 left, they had no choice but to go for it. Had they had a second timeout in their back pocket, there could’ve been a punt. Seattle would’ve had two timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the clock. But with only one, they went for it and missed. The Cowboys tacked on a field goal to secure the win.

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