Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Key plays, No. 3: Brandon Carr's interception

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

At some point this offseason, Jason Garrett will lean bak 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?

What if Eric Frampton had recovered New Orleans receiver Marques Colston's fumble instead of tight end Jimmy Graham?

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 continue the countdown:

Brandon Carr's interception


Brandon Carr
Brandon Carr's overtime interception against the Steelers was more evidence of his growth during the second half of the season for the Cowboys.
Situation: Second-and-3 from Pittsburgh 27
Score: Tied, 24-24
Time: 14:29 left in overtime

Taylor's Take: Brandon Carr, the Cowboys' $50 million cornerback, did what playmakers should do -- he made a big play at winning time. Carr’s diving interception along the sideline and subsequent return salvaged yet another fourth-quarter comeback -- DeMarco Murray tied the score at 24-24 with 6:55 left - as the Cowboys extended their winning streak to three games and moved over .500 for the first time all season.

Season Impact: When Brandon Carr signed his five-year, $50 million deal, most Cowboys‘ fans believed they were getting an elite cornerback. He’s not. He never has been. But he’s a quality cornerback and he turned in a solid season for Dallas, but he was at his best in the second-half of the season, when game-changing plays against Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh propelled the Cowboys to wins in all of those games. Carr’s interception put the Cowboys in complete control of their playoff destiny.