At some point this offseason, Jason Garrett will lean back 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 considerably more memorable than others -- and it doesn’t matter whether they went for or against them.
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 on Thanksgiving Day?
If, if, if. 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 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. "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.”
Without further ado, we continue the countdown:
No. 9: Felix Jones fumbles opening kickoff
Situation: Opening kickoff against Seattle Seahawks
Score: Tied, 0-0
Time: 15:00 left in first quarter
Taylor's Take: All the feel-good emotions from the season-opening victory against the New York Giants evaporated after Jones fumbled the opening kickoff and Seattle recovered. It wasn’t even a big hit; the ball was just kind of knocked from his grasp. The Seahawks kicked a field goal and grabbed a 3-0 lead, but the tone had been set. The 12th man fed off the crowd and revved up the Seahawks in their 27-7 blowout win.
Season Impact: The fumble was symbolic of the sorry season Jones had, beginning with flunking the conditioning test on the first day of training camp. When DeMarco Murray missed six games with a foot injury, Jones failed to give the Cowboys a consistent running game and the team suffered. He spent much of the season as a non-factor.