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Cowboys penalties loom large in first five games

FRISCO, Texas -- Through five games, the Dallas Cowboys are 20th in the league in penalties with 33, but they are on pace to have the most penalty yards in a season since Jason Garrett took over on a full-time basis in 2011 with 992.

In 2015 and '16, the Cowboys had 879 yards on 112 and 105 penalties, respectively.

Their five opponents have had 33 penalties as well, but for 245 yards.

While the number of penalties is not out of whack, the timing of two penalties in losses this year stand out. In Week 2, a leverage call on DeMarcus Lawrence allowed the Denver Broncos to take a field goal off the board and score a touchdown that set the Broncos on their way to a 42-17 win.

On Sunday, defensive end Benson Mayowa was called for unnecessary roughness of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Referee Terry McAulay ruled Lawrence had Rodgers in the grasp and blew the play dead, but Mayowa did not hear the whistle -- and neither apparently did Rodgers, who attempted a pass to the flat -- and he was called for hitting the quarterback.

Garrett was upset because he was told there would be offsetting penalties for intentional grounding on Rodgers and Mayowa's unnecessary roughness. Because McAulay blew Rodgers down, there was no grounding.

Instead of facing third-and-20 from their 8 or a replay of second down, the Packers had first-and-10 from their 17 and eventually scored a touchdown on the drive. In a game decided by the tiniest of margins, calls like McAulay's can haunt a team.

Tuesday's are normally reserved for an officials breakdown, but with the bye week the look will be at the Cowboys' 38 overall penalties through five games.

Lawrence and cornerback Anthony Brown lead the Cowboys with four penalties apiece. In addition to the leverage penalty, Lawrnece has been flagged twice for being offside and once for encroachment. Brown has two pass interference penalties and two defensive holding penalties.

The breakdown:

4 -- DeMarcus Lawrence, Anthony Brown

3 -- Tyron Smith, Byron Jones

2 -- Orlando Scandrick, Benson Mayowa, Maliek Collins, Travis Frederick, La'el Collins, Kyle Wilber, Chaz Green

1 -- Anthony Hitchens, Dez Bryant, Jeff Heath, Geoff Swaim, James Hanna, Sean Lee, Jourdan Lewis, Jason Witten, Bene Benwikere, Jonathan Cooper