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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Vote: Five plays that shaped Cowboys' win

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

IRVING - There were 120 plays in the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. The Cowboys scored a season-high 21 points in the fourth quarter, but there were some plays in the first three quarters that shaped the game.

Here are five:

Play: Cole Beasley 3-yard reception
Situation: Third-and-2 at Philadelphia 35
Score: Philadelphia, 7-0
Time: 5:23 left in first quarter
Taylor's Take: Cole Beasley played only four snaps, but he made one of the game’s most important plays. Philadelphia, losers of four straight, scored a touchdown on its first possession and the Cowboys needed to answer. Beasley, operating from the slot and matched up against a linebacker, sold an inside route hard, then pivoted toward the sideline, creating space for Romo to make an easy throw and get the first down. The drive ended with a game-tying touchdown.

Play: Michael Vick injured
Situation: Third-and-2 at Philadelphia 37
Score: Tied, 7-7
Time: 11:53 left in second quarter
Taylor's Take: Vick had been knocked woozy on the previous play by Jay Ratliff. Ernie Sims, blitzing up the middle on the play, was unblocked and delivered the knockout blow, forcing rookie backup Nick Foles into his first NFL game. Without Sims’ heavy pressure, Vick might’ve spotted LeSean McCoy, who circled out of the backfield and did not have a defender within five yards, and hit him with good pass. Instead, the pass sailed over McCoy’s head.

Play: Jason Hatcher draws penalty
Situation: Third-and-5 from Dallas 14
Score: Philadelphia, 14-10
Time: 5:38 left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: Jason Hatcher, lined up at left defensive end instead of his usual right defensive end spot, turned the corner on Dunlap and was closing in on quarterback Nick Foles. Hatcher was nearly past Dunlap, who tried to push Hatcher on the shoulder, but wound up hitting him on the side of the head. Hatcher's helmet flew of and Dunlap was penalized for illegal use of hands, negating a 13-yard catch to the Dallas 1 that would’ve positioned the Eagles to grab a 14-point lead.

Play: Miles Austin 25-yard reception
Situation: Third-and-5 from Dallas 39
Score: Philadelphia, 17-10
Time: 2:14 left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: Tony Romo, deservedly maligned much of the season, made the kind of play that only a handful of quarterbacks can make. Romo spun left away from defensive end Fletcher Cox and ducked under defensive end Jason Babin as he approached the line of scrimmage. Finally, Romo found Miles Austin for a 25-yard completion and a pivotal first down.

Play: Dwayne Harris 78-yard punt return
Situation: Fourth-and-8 from Philadelphia 29
Score: Tied, 17-17
Time: 13:52 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Harris, who took over the punt return job against the New York Giants’ game two games ago, fielded the ball along the left hashmark and received three terrific blocks before he reached the 30. He went untouched down the sideline with Danny McCray making a clearing block on punter Mat McBriar at the Philadelphia 40.

So what's your key play? Vote using the ranker above.