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A Few Big-Play Mistakes & Failures Helped The Packers To Victory Over Dallas

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Dallas had their shot, but came up short due to a few big plays.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It was a game they easily could have won. In the end, they lost and they have no one to blame but themselves. Certainly not the refs. (As noted in this updated article on BTB, the NFL was correct in their interpretation of the Dez Bryant catch.)  The Cowboys 26-21 loss to the Packers closes out a brilliant season with a disappointing ending.

One of the momentum-turners occurred when the Cowboys did something that has haunted them in past seasons but had been largely absent from this season. With a third and one at the Packers 27-yard line with only 40 seconds left in the half, the Cowboys were poised to go up at least by 10 points, and possibly 14. With a running game that had found its legs on the drive, Dallas passed the ball on 3rd and 1. Romo "killed" one play and went to another which turned out to be a pass and Dallas failed to convert. Logically, following what had been working for them, they should have sent Romo to the line with one play only, a DeMarco Murray run. No audibles, no changes, no nothing except a Murray run. That's not what happened and Dallas once again reverted back to poor play-calling choices, and ultimately didn't even convert the field goal. If that wasn't bad enough, the Cowboys turned around and gave up a field goal to Green Bay to close the half. They allowed a 31-yard pass after a sack that made it 2nd and 20. So basically you have a six-point swing right before halftime, and what could have been a possible 10-point swing. That's not going to win games in Green Bay.

The other big mistake from Dallas was something we hadn't seen since the first half of the season. A DeMarco Murray fumble lost. And it wasn't just an ordinary fumble. It almost assuredly cost Dallas seven points, and the Packers got three themselves on the turnover. Another potential 10-point swing in the game. The Cowboys were facing a 1st and 5 at their own 41-yard line. They called a run to the right and the result of some good blocking and catching the Packers in the wrong defense resulted in a huge hole with no in the Packers in the picture. If Murray breaks through the line there is only one safety on the other side of the field with even a remote chance of catching him before a touchdown. The Cowboys were set up for a huge play. Instead, Julius Peppers made his own big play when he got an arm on the ball, popped it loose and the Packers recovered. The Packers eventually got a field goal out of the turnover.

Essentially, Dallas gifted the Packers six points on these two mistakes, at the minimum. And Dallas lost by five points. Oh, what could have been.

In no way is this to downplay what the Packers did. They came back in the second half and made the plays to win the game. Someone had to strip Murray of the football, and that was Peppers. Aaron Rodgers came to life and started carving Dallas up. Davante Adams came out of nowhere to blow the Cowboys up in the second half. Make no mistake, Green Bay came back and grabbed this victory. It's just that a few mistakes by Dallas along the way surely helped.

You could also look at the fact the Cowboys had Green Bay in a 3rd and 15 late in the third quarter, and gave up a 46-yard TD. They also still had time after the Dez Bryant call, but the defense couldn't stop Green Bay.

Throughout the game, the Cowboys were good enough to give themselves a chance, but just not good enough, today, to grab that chance.