Plays that shaped the season: No. 8

January, 8, 2014
Jan 8
12:00
PM ET
Editor's note: In this series, Jean-Jacques Taylor counts down 10 plays that shaped the Cowboys' season.

Tyron Smith Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsTyron Smith's fumble recovery saved the day against Oakland after Dez Bryant lost the ball.

Play No. 8: Tyron Smith's fumble recovery

Situation: First-and-10 from Oakland 32
Score: Oakland leads, 21-7
Time: :57 left in second quarter

Taylor's Take: One of the best things the Cowboys have done under Jason Garrett is play as hard as they can for as long as they can. Tyron Smith's hustling spirit saved the day against the Raiders, when Dez Bryant was stripped after a short catch. Smith, who had been pass protecting, saw the ball come tumbling out, sprinted after it and pounced on it at the Oakland 29. Four plays later, the Cowboys cut the deficit to 21-14 on DeMarco Murray's touchdown run.

Season Impact: If the Raiders had recovered Bryant's fumble and taken a 14-point halftime lead, the Cowboys might not have recovered because Oakland had the ball first in the third quarter. Smith's recovery and the subsequent touchdown allowed the Cowboys to regroup. They scored the fist 17 points of the second half and were tied for first place in the NFC East after Thanksgiving Day.

Quote: "I think the biggest thing you ask your linemen to do is finish the down. I think it's hard to ask an offensive lineman to run 60 yards down the field play after play after play at their size. On that fumble recovery the other day, he just was aware. He made a heck of a play, a very athletic play, to recover that ball." -- Jason Garrett
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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