- Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPNDallas.com
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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 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?
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.”
Without further ado, let's finish the countdown:
No. 1: Tony Romo interception vs. Redskins
Situation: First-and-10 from Dallas 29
Score: Washington leads, 21-18
Time: 3:06 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Romo needed to move the Cowboys 71 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, and he had more than three minutes and all three timeouts to do it. Romo, feeling pressure up the middle from an unblocked blitzing linebacker, tried to throw a pass to DeMarco Murray along the left sideline. If he gets it over linebacker Rob Jackson, who peeled off into coverage after initially rushing the passer, Murray might gain 20 yards. Instead, Romo threw the ball off his back foot and didn't get enough loft on the ball. Jackson made a leaping interception -- it was Romo's third turnover -- effectively ending any hope of a comeback.
Season Impact: All the change that Jerry Jones has implemented at Valley Ranch is the direct result of Washington loss. If the Cowboys had won the game, captured the NFC East and hosted a home playoff game, there’s no way Jones would be the Ambassador of Change that he’s become since the season ended. But Jones is mad, embarrassed and needs to sell hope to a frustrated fan base.