Right now, the Cowboys blog on ESPN.com are counting down the 10 plays that they feel shaped this past season. Right now they are up to No. 7. I thought it would be fun for us to come up with our own list. ESPN has both positive and negative plays so far, so I will keep that theme. I have 5 key plays in losses and 5 key plays in wins. Here we go.
#10. Carr's interception return for a TD in the season opener against the Giants
The season got off in wacky style. Ware intercepts Eli's first pass of the season and the Giants committ 6 turnovers for the game. Still, even with that, our offense struggled and the Giants had the ball late with a chance to win. But some no name RB tips an Eli pass and Carr grabs it and takes it home, giving us an insurmountable 36-24 lead. For the 3rd straight year, we start off 1-0.
#9. Dez drops deep pass in Kansas City game
I will borrow ESPN's No. 7 and put it in this slot. While the loss was early (the 1st loss), it still counts at the end. Dallas was trailing 17-13 with about 9 minutes left in the game, and Romo threw his best deep ball that entire season. It hit Dez in stride and clunked right off his hands. Dallas could only manage a FG the rest of the game and lost 17-16.
#8. Harris punt return TD in the first Washington game
The Cowboys get back on the winning track early in the season with outstanding special teams play from Dwayne Harris. The Cowboys offense was struggling and the team badly needed a spark. Leading just 7-3 before halftime, Harris returns a punt 86 yards for a TD. Combined with a big kickoff return later, Harris almost single handly won the game.
#7. Romo misses Dez deep in the Green Bay game
The Green Bay game turned out to be relatively meaningless, as we would still have had to beat the Eagles in Week 17 to get it. Still, blowing a 26-3 lead at home will stay with a team. GB had cut the lead to 36-31 and the Cowboys got the ball. On the very first play, when conventional wisdom would have you run the ball to burn the clock, Romo carries out a perfect play-action fake. Dez badly burns his man and has at least 3 strides on him. Romo floats up a lame deep ball, causing Dez to have to stop and fight for it. Pass incomplete. Romo would go on to throw an INT on the drive.
#6. Foles misses easy TD in first Eagles game
Here's a play that wasn't made by us. In the first Eagles game, Foles played like he thought he was on the Cowboys (reports were that he was playing with a concussion). He couldn't hit the right side of the barn on that day (the wind was pretty bad, too). Down just 10-0 in the 3rd quarter, Foles finally had the Eagles in scoring position. Foles throws to a wide open, and I mean wide open, Jason Avant in the end zone and badly, and I mean badly, underthrows him. Avant goes to the ground to catch it and bats the ball in the air. Wilcox intercepts it, but that's overruled on replay. Regardless, Foles misses a sure TD and the Eagles only get a FG. We go on to win 17-3
#5. Tyron holding penalty in Detroit game
The CBS announcers had already chalked up a win for the Cowboys, as we tried to run down the clock late in the game. On a 3rd down play in the 4th quarter, with the Cowboys leading 27-24 and only 1:14 remaining,the Boys tried to burn more time off the clock with a run. Tanner went 9 yards to put us in FG position, but Tyron Smith was called for holding. Per NFL rules, the clock was now stopped. Instead of just punting and pinning the Lions deep with about 25 or 30 seconds to get in FG range, the Cowboys are forced to kick a FG and give the Lions 1 minute to drive the field on us to score the winning TD.
#4. Romo big 3rd down pass in the 2nd Giants game
Here go the same ol' Cowboys, right? Dominating most of the game, they let the Giants sneak back in the game and tie it at 21. The momentum has swung to the Giants on their home field. Facing a 3rd and 7 right off the bat (and on a horrible 3rd down streak), the Cowboys could ill afford to give the ball right back to the Giants. Romo drops back, waits until the last second, and throws up a back shoulder fade to Dez. Dez catches it (despite obvious interference the refs didn't call) and the Cowboys are in business. Romo would convert 2 more key 3rd down plays and they would go on to milk the clock and win at the last second with a FG.
#3. Romo interception against Denver
In what might be the most exciting Cowboys game in recent memory, Romo was in a different stratosphere. Romo went toe to toe with Peyton Manning and was leading on the judge's scorecard. The game was tied at 48 and the Cowboys had the ball with just 2 minutes left. They had absolutely no problem moving the ball all game and a game winning FG drive seemed inevitable. But this is Romo we're talking about here. After an ill advised sack to start the drive, Romo drops back on 2nd and long. Murray comes out of the back field and is wide open, good for at least 10 yards. But Romo hones in on Escobar and tries to thread a pass into a triangle of defenders. He steps on Tyron's foot and the pass goes off target. The Bronces LB makes an impressive diving catch and that's the game. A win against the undefeated Broncos could have done wonders for this team. Oh well...
#2. Romo rescues the season with a clutch TD pass in 2nd Redskins game
In what turned out to be Romo's last pass of the season, Romo dropped back on 4th and goal from the 10, with just 1:16 left in the season and trailing 23-17, and surveyed the field. Seeing nothing, he stepped up in the pocket as Murray drifted back on his route. Romo lofted an easy throw to his RB and Murray scores the winning TD. And he did all that with what turned out to be a herniated disc in his back, which ended his season. That one might go in the vault with the broken rib SF game in 2011.
#1. Orton throws game ending interception in Week 17 against Eagles
No need to linger on another one of these Week 17 disappointments. Playing without their leader, the Cowboys actually showed up and played hard. Unfortunately, Orton watched Romo a little too closely and threw the game ending INT when he had a chance to be a hero. Undoubtedly, given the circumstances, that was the biggest play of the season.
So what do you guys think? What plays do you think shaped the season? Just throw them out there!