Monday, January 6, 2014
Plays that shaped the season: No. 10
By Jean-Jacques Taylor
Editor's note: In this series, Jean-Jacques Taylor counts down 10 plays that shaped the Cowboys' season.
Terrance Williams' fumble all but ended the Cowboys' comeback hopes in San Diego.
There were 2,051 plays in the Dallas Cowboys' 2013 season -- and we know coach Jason Garrett would love to have a few of them back.
Like either one of Tony Romo's two interceptions against Green Bay. Or Kyle Orton's fourth-quarter interception against Philadelphia. Or Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford's 1-yard touchdown.
He’d love a mulligan on Romo's interception against Denver. And Dez Bryant's drop against Kansas City.
And let's not forget the plays against Washington and Chicago when Romo and linebacker Sean Lee were injured.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't work that way.
For every NFL team -- whether it made or missed the playoffs -- the season almost always comes down to a handful of plays that decide its fate.
Of the Cowboys' eight losses, five occurred by a total of eight points. Dallas lost three games by one point, one game by two points and one game by three points.
They blew a 23-point halftime lead at home against Green Bay and a 10-point lead on the road in the final four minutes against Detroit.
Think about it. If one more play had gone the Cowboys’ way this season, they would've made the playoffs. Instead, the Cowboys missed the playoffs for the fourth straight season -- the longest streak since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989.
"You have to somehow, someway as a football team do the things that help you wins games at the end of games and we'll keep working on that," Garrett said recently.
"One of the great things about this game is it's challenging. There are good coaches and players on the other side. You have to compete hard and well to win each week.
"Sometimes, you don't make the right decisions. You have to go back and learn from them and, hopefully, when you're confronted with that situation again, you handle it better. That applies to me, our staff and our whole team."
Without further ado, we begin our countdown of the 10 plays that shaped the Cowboys' season.
Situation: Second-and-goal from San Diego 7
Score: San Diego leads, 30-21
Time: 2:50 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: A lesser player would've crumbled after making such a big mistake four games into his rookie season. Garrett did a good job of talking more about Williams’ admirable effort to score than the actual fumble. Williams rebounded with four receptions for 151 yards, including an 82-yard touchdown the next week against the Denver Broncos. He finished the season with 44 catches for 736 yards, five touchdowns and considerably more good plays than bad ones.
Season Impact: The Cowboys needed a touchdown to create an opportunity for a last-minute comeback win. A win would've enabled the Cowboys to win consecutive games and improve to 3-1 for the first time since 2008. Instead, they were back to .500 when the game ended.
Quote: "I was trying to make a play and it just didn't turn out the way I wanted it to. I felt like I let a whole bunch of people down. It will be kind of tough to get past it, but I have to just move on." -- Terrance Williams