In what was a pivotal game for both the Cowboys and Titans, Dallas ended up making plenty of mistakes that led to their first home loss of the year, a 28-14 win for the Titans that significantly reduces Dallas’ odds of any playoff appearance. These were the five plays that shaped the game.
Ezekiel Elliott dropped for a loss on second down
On the opening drive of the game, the Cowboys were moving the ball well. Zeke was running well and Dak Prescott found both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup early for big gains. Before we knew it, Dallas was in striking distance of the endzone. Facing second and four from the Tennessee 17-yard line, the Cowboys ran it with Elliott but he was tackled for a three yard loss.
It then brought up a third and long that Dallas didn’t convert, and forced the Cowboys to settle for a field goal, which Brett Maher surprisingly missed. After a drive that was going strong, the Cowboys offense fizzled out in scoring position and came away with zero points. Early momentum was lost.
Kevin Byard picks off Dak in the endzone, celebrates on the star
After scoring a touchdown and recovering a Titans fumble, the Cowboys had a chance to go up 14-0 before the end of the first quarter. After a huge pass to Ezekiel Elliott that picked up 37 yards, the Cowboys had first and goal at the four yard line. Elliott got stuffed for a short loss making it second and goal on the six when Dak did this:
Kevin Byard did the T.O. celebration in the middle of the Dallas star— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 6, 2018
: ESPN #TENvsDALpic.twitter.com/ap3htRbcWv
The pass was too high and one that Prescott should have never thrown into double-coverage. The talented Kevin Byard brought it in for an interception, making it three different red zone trips for the Cowboys with a total of just seven points to show for it. The Titans would score a touchdown on the following drive. The game was forever changed after this particular play.
La’el Collins’ false start kills another drive
It’s almost becoming a weekly ritual of talking about Connor Williams being called for holding and La’el Collins being called for a false start. After a Williams hold, the Cowboys had a first and 20 at their own 35-yard line in the third quarter. After moving the ball and getting to a manageable third and eight, Collins jumped early.
Now, instead of a third and eight, it was a third and thirteen, and Prescott would get sacked on the conversion attempt, simultaneously fumbling the ball, which was recovered by Tennessee. That led to another score.
Michael Gallup can’t get in bounds for a big catch
Down 28-14 late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys were desperately trying to move the ball in a last ditch effort to tie the game, giving everyone memories of the game in Washington two weeks ago. On second down at the Dallas 36, Prescott threw a deep ball down the sideline to Gallup, who had a chance to bring it in despite needing some toe-tapping heroics.
Unfortunately, the rookie was unable to do so, and what would have been a 54-yard catch was merely an incompletion that brought up third and long. The Cowboys converted, but it took a lot more time to get in scoring position.
Cowboys run a trick play in crunch time that fails miserably
After converting the aforementioned third and long and moving the ball again, the Cowboys found themselves in Tennessee territory for the first time in the second half. With first and ten on the Titans 13, they ran a reverse that put the ball in Cole Beasley’s hands and was designed to throw to Dak in the endzone. The blocking on the play was blown up immediately, and Beasley had to scramble before tossing the ball to a blanketed Prescott near the goal line.
It was a poorly executed play that failed to catch the defense off guard, and only served to take valuable time off the clock and give future opponents a free look at one of the few tricks up Scott Linehan’s sleeve. Three incomplete passes later and the Titans were kneeling to run the clock out and get the win.