Key plays, No. 4: Tyron Smith displayed Cowboys' spirit

January, 14, 2013
1/14/13
11:30
PM ET
At some point this offseason, Jason Garrett will lean bak in his favorite chair, close his eyes and ponder what might have been.

There were 2,035 plays in the Cowboys’ 2012 season, but some are more memorable than others - and it doesn’t matter whether they went in the Cowboys’ favor or against America’s Team.

What if Dez Bryant's pinkie hadn’t come down out of bounds against the New York Giants in the final minute? Or what if a Washington safety hadn’t knocked the ball out of Bryant’s arms, breaking up an apparent touchdown, in the fourth quarter?

What if Eric Frampton had recovered New Orleans receiver Marques Colston's fumble instead of tight end Jimmy Graham?

That’s the story of the NFL every year.

A play here or there and the Cowboys would’ve made the playoffs. It’s the reason why Garrett is forever saying every play in every game matters.

“It allows you to argue your point to your players that it’s really really close each and every week in this league,” Garrett said. “The importance of getting all of the details right and making sure you’re on point can make a difference in this ball game and here’s why.

“All these things that happened to us this year where plays went against us. If that play had been different we would’ve won that game. Or, similarly, plays that went for us that helped us win ballgames. There were a number of those too. It’s the nature of the NFL.”

Withut further ado. let's continue the countdown:

Tyron Smith penalty


[+] EnlargeBoley
Al Bello/Getty ImagesMichael Boley seemed destined to score a TD after intercepting Tony Romo in the season opener, but Tyron Smith brought him down from behind and the ball was placed at the 1-yard line. The Cowboys' defense then held the Giants to a field goal.
Situation: Third-and-8 from Dallas 40
Score: Tied, 0-0
Time: 10:46 left in second quarter

Taylor's Take: Tony Romo didn’t see linebacker Michael Boley reading his eyes because center Ryan Cook was being pushed into his lap. Boley stepped in front of a pass directed to Kevin Ogletree, and seemed destined to return it for a touchdown. Left tackle Tyron Smith tracked Boley down and pulled him down from behind at the Dallas 2. Smith was was penalized for a horse-collar tackle, moving the ball to the one. The Cowboys, though, held the Giants to a field goal.

Season Impact: Tyron Smith didn’t mind the $15,750 fine for his horse tackle on Michael Boley. All Smith knew is he had to do whatever it took to stop Boley from getting to the end zone. You can say anything you’d like about Cowboys’ second consecutive 8-8 season, but they did play with a relentless spirit all season. Smith displayed it from the start.
Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

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