Was it a catch? Wasn’t it a catch? Did he make a football move? Didn’t he? In the end, it really doesn’t matter. But over the next few days, and for Cowboys fans throughout the offseason, we will hear about the Dez Bryant catch that wasn’t. Of course, it was a massive play in the game and Dallas very well may have won the game had it been ruled a catch, but it certainly was not the only play that went a long way in determining the eventual outcome of the game. Here are six other plays that may have been just as crucial, yet will be far less covered.
6) Devante Adams TD
Late in the third quarter, the Packers were presented with a 3rd and 15. Aaron Rodgers had been having trouble moving around and the Packers were just outside of field goal range. Dallas had the lead by eight at the time and were looking poised to at worst allow a field goal and get the ball back, up five. Instead, they rushed just three, sat back in coverage, and let the immobile Rodgers slice them up over the middle of the field. Devante Adams caught the ball just beyond the first down marker, which was bad enough for Dallas, but then he went on to run into the end zone after a poor attempt at a tackle by J.J. Wilcox.
5) Kickoff Fumble Recovered by GB
The Cowboys had just scored to take an eight point lead, their largest of the game. Dan Bailey kicked the ball off and Randall Cobb gathered it at the 15. After breaking one tackle, Cobb lost the ball and a scrum ensued. With just over four minutes left in the game and the Cowboys up a score, a fumble recovery inside of field goal range could have been deadly to Green Bay. Luckily for the Packers, tight end Andrew Quarless came out of the pile with the football and the crisis was averted.
4) Cobb For the Win
The Cowboys backs were against the wall. Down five just after the two minute warning. But the Packers were faced with a 3rd and 11 and lined up as if they were willing to risk throwing the ball and possibly giving it back to Dallas. Rodgers was pressured and the ball was tipped by Tyrone Crawford. Somehow it fluttered it’s way to Randall Cobb, just beyond the first down line, and the game was over. Had the ball fallen incomplete, the Packers would likely have had to punt, and Tony Romo would have had about 1:50 to score the winning touchdown.
3) Ruling on the Field Stands
With just :29 left in the first half Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had the ball at their own 40. Rodgers threw a pass to Randall Cobb that was low, but ruled a competition at the Cowboy 47. The booth decided to take a look at the play to determine if the ball contacted the ground before Cobb secured it. From the point of view of many, including Joe Buck, rules expert Mike Pereira, and myself, the point of the ball touched the ground. Referee Gene Steratore upheld the call and the Packers kicked a field goal on the drive.
2) 50 yard FG, No Good
In somewhat of a peculiar decision the Cowboys opted to try a 45 yard field goal with :34 left on the clock in the first half. It’s peculiar because it was 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 38, and DeMarco Murray had been tearing up the Packers all half. Jason Garrett elected to try the field goal which eventually had to be pushed back five yards on a false start penalty on the center. Kicker Dan Bailey missed his “practice” attempt after the false start, and went on to miss the real attempt from 50 as well. The Packers took over, and thanks to play number 3 (see above) wound up kicking a field goal themselves. The correct decision (check my Twitter, I said it well before the attempt) was to go for it on 4th at 1. However, after the penalty the Cowboys would have been better served to punt and force the Packers to kill the clock and go to half down seven. Instead, it winds up being a six point swing in a game that would eventually be decided by five.
1) DeMarco Murray Fumble
On 1st and 5 from the Cowboy 41, Dallas handed the ball off to DeMarco Murray. The offensive line opened up a massive hole big enough to drive a truck through. But, right at Murray hit the hole, Julius Peppers reached his arm in and knocked the ball out of Murray’s hands. The Packers would recover the fumble and it would lead to field goal cutting the lead to just one. The hole was so large that it was almost assured that Murray would have run in for a 59 yard touchdown and the Cowboys would go ahead 21-10 early in the 3rd quarter. Instead, the ball is dropped and the game tightened up in a hurry. Dallas was controlling the game at that point, and a touchdown there could have devastated in the Packers. The fumble did the exact opposite.