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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Vote: Five plays that shaped the game

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

IRVING -- There were 123 plays in the Cowboys' 38-33 win over Philadelphia. Here are five that shaped the game:

Play: Dez Bryant 14-yard reception
Situation: Third-and-5
Score: Philadelphia, 14-3
Time: 2:14 left in second quarter
Taylor's Take: Tony Romo picked a great time to target Dez Bryant for the first time in the game. Although the throw was behind him, Bryant twisted his body into position along the sideline and made a crucial catch and convert a second-and-18 on the Cowboys first touchdown drive. A punt would’ve been disastrous.

Play: DeMarco Murray 27-yard run
Situation: Third-and-1
Score: Philadelphia, 17-10
Time: 13:11 left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: Murray’s run - he bounced it around right end after not finding a hole off right guard - did more than pick up a first down. It gave Jason Garrett confidence to continue running the ball because it showed Murray could still make something out of nothing.

Play: Jason Garrett challenges spot
Situation: 4-and-1
Score: Philadelphia, 24-17
Time: :29 seconds left in third quarter
Taylor's Take: Garrett had gambled on fourth down as he should have because the defense had shown no inclination that it could stop the Eagles. With the game entering the fourth quarter, he couldn’t afford to punt the ball. The initial spot was so egregious by officials that Garrett had to challenge the play, which is among the hardest to get overturned. Three plays later, the Cowboys tied the score.

Play: Dez Bryant 35-yard catch
Situation: Third-and-2
Score: Philadelphia, 27-24
Time: 7:37 left in the fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: All the Cowboys needed was two yards to sustain the drive, but when Tony Romo saw Dez Bryant had a cornerback in his face he decided to take a deep shot. Bryant, covered tightly on the play, jumped to catch the ball and absorbed a big hit from the safety.

Play: Morris Claiborne 50-yard fumble return
Situation: Second-and-seven
Score: Dallas, 31-27
Time: 4:03 left in fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: The Cowboys’ defense had done virtually nothing all game and Bryce Brown had rushed for more than 150 yards, but Josh Brent forced a fumble and Claiborne scooped it and returned it for a game-clinching touchdown as Philadelphia was driving for yet another score.

So which play affected the game more than the others?