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Five plays that shaped the Cowboys’ gutsy OT win over the Patriots

Dak Prescott saved the day in Gillette Stadium.

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

For the first time this season, the Cowboys got overtime football. Playing on the road against a Patriots team that rarely loses in Gillette Stadium, Dallas had to fight for everything in this game and still needed extra time to pull it out.

The performance was sloppy at times, and there were quite a few questionable officiating calls mixed in, but when the final whistle blew the Cowboys were victors for the fifth straight week. They now head into their bye week in good position, and these five plays were a huge part of the gutsy win that came before the week’s rest.

Randy Gregory’s powerful strip sack kills promising Patriots drive

The tone of the game was set early on: the Cowboys weren’t going to get any benefit of the doubt from the officials, including two missed roughing penalties against Dak Prescott, while rookie Mac Jones was clearly feeling it early.

After Prescott had a pass batted into an interception in the endzone, the Patriots were driving with a 14-7 lead and looking to take a commanding lead early. It didn’t take long before Jones moved his offense to the Dallas 25-yard line. He then threw a touchdown strike that got negated by a holding penalty, which led to this splash play:

Randy Gregory absolutely blew by the right tackle and laid down the hammer on Jones, who had no idea 94 was even there. The ball came loose and Chauncey Golston scooped it up. The Cowboys only got a field goal off of the takeaway, but the more important part was preventing what seemed like a sure bet at points and not allowing New England to get a big lead.

The missed Dak Prescott touchdown run leads to a turnover

What sacrifice must be made to the football gods? For the second time this season, Prescott ran a quarterback sneak on the goal line that very obviously crossed the plane only for the refs to mark him short. This came on the Cowboys’ drive right after the blocked punt, a play that would be getting its own shoutout here had the missed touchdown call not happened.

Of course, the next play resulted in a touchdown that was immediately reviewed and overturned as a fumble. That was probably the right call, although it’s hard to describe the footage as conclusive evidence. Either way, that play shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and instead of Dallas holding a 17-14 lead at halftime they were down 14-10.

Connor Williams’ phantom holding penalty alters drive

The Patriots’ run game came alive late in the fourth quarter and steamrolled Dallas for a touchdown to go up 21-20, but Prescott quickly engineered a drive that moved the Cowboys down the field. It looked like it would only be a matter of time until they had the lead back.

On second down and two from the Patriots’ 33-yard line, Dak handed it off to Tony Pollard, who ran for a first down. But a hold was called on Connor Williams, backing them up 10 yards and erasing the first down run. Problem is that there didn’t appear to be any hold on the replay, and Tony Romo even suggested as much.

The Cowboys ended up getting in field goal position - and then missing said field goal - but it never would have been that way had this phantom penalty not been called. The offense was moving the ball efficiently, but this penalty threw them off their rhythm and resulted in attempting a field goal from the 33-yard line, which is where they were when the phantom hold was called initially.

Cedrick Wilson’s athletic fingertip grab keeps tying drive alive

After a bizarre series of plays in which Trevon Diggs got a surprise go-ahead pick six before Kendrick Bourne caught a 75-yard touchdown pass to out New England right back up again, the Cowboys sent Prescott and the offense out needing a field goal to tie things up and a touchdown to win.

Prescott threw on each down, but picked up just six yards before Dallas faced a fourth down at their own 35-yard line. The two-minute warning had just come, so a failure to convert here would have been the ball game. But Prescott threw a high pass to Cedrick Wilson on the outside, who made an athletic grab with his fingertips to pick up 13 yards and move the chains.

The catch itself was incredible, but it was even more impressive because of just how much it meant in the context of the game. Five plays later, Greg Zuerlein drilled a 49-yard field goal to send it into overtime, but none of that would have been possible without Wilson’s clutch catch on fourth down.

Anthony Brown’s missed facemask penalty

The Patriots got the ball first in overtime, meaning the Cowboys needed a stop. It was clear that their unit was gassed, while the Patriots had been looking good offensively in the fourth quarter aside from Diggs’ inevitable interception.

However, Jones was quickly looking at third and three on the New England 46-yard line. He tried to throw to Nelsojn Agholor on the sideline but missed him. The replay showed a clear and obvious facemask penalty from Anthony Brown, who was in coverage on Agholor, but no flags were thrown.

Had those flags been thrown, as they should have been, the Patriots would have moved into Cowboys’ territory with a fresh set of downs. Instead, they punted the ball away, and Dak Prescott did Dak Prescott things.

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