IRVING - There were 128 plays in Baltimore's 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon. While most want to focus on the last two plays, there were four plays during a 29-play span in the second quarter when the Cowboys blew their opportunity to seize control of the game and allowed the Ravens to take control.
Here are five plays that shaped the game:
Play: Illegal shift penalty
Situation: Third-and-4 from Baltimore 12
Score: Dallas, 7-3
Time: 12:24, second quarter
Taylor's Take: The Cowboys had ripped off 50 yards on eight carries during the drive, and Felix Jones had burst over left guard for a 6-yard gain and an apparent first down. But the Cowboys were penalized for an illegal shift, making it third-and-9. The Ravens had given no indication to that point they could stop Dallas from running, but this forced the Cowboys into a passing situation and ultimately they settled for a field goal.
Play: Mike Jenkins drops interception
Situation: Second-and-7 from Baltimore 35
Score: Dallas, 10-3
Time: 10:17, second quarter
Taylor's Take: We’re five games into the season, and the Cowboys' secondary still doesn’t have an interception. Jenkins blew an opportunity to put the Cowboys in prime position to separate from Baltimore when he dropped a pass from Joe Flacco that him in the chest at about the Ravens 45. On the next play, Ray Rice's 43-yard catch-and-run set up Baltimore’s first touchdown.
Play: Tony Romo interception
Situation: Third-and-10 from Baltimore 35
Score: Tied, 10-10
Time: 2:27, second quarter
Taylor's Take: Some day, Romo will learn that he doesn’t have to make a play every time he drops back into the pocket. At worst, the Cowboys should’ve been attempting a field goal, but Romo made yet another ill-advised decision. Facing pressure, Romo threw back across the middle from beyond the right hash to Ogletree, who was near the left hash and blanketed by Ed Reed. Romo, with Dannell Ellerbee about to sack him, didn’t hit his target and Cary Williams intercepted the pass.
Play: Anquan Boldin reception
Score: Tied, 10-10
Time: 2:00, second quarter
Taylor's Take: The Cowboys had allowed just one third-down conversion of eight yards or more in 18 attempts in the first four games of the season. Well, Boldin made it 2-of-19. The Cowboys couldn’t generate a pass rush and Boldin found himself locked up against Bruce Carter in a zone defense and made the play that kick-started their 80-yard touchdown drive.
Play: Dez Bryant drops pass
Situation: Two-point conversion attempt
Score: Baltimore, 31-29
Time: 36 seconds, fourth quarter
Taylor's Take: Bryant ran a terrific route and did everything but catch the pass because he allowed it to get into his body instead of snagging it with his hands. It would’ve been a tough catch, but the kind Bryant must make if he wants to become an elite receiver. Make that catch and we’re not even discussing the last 21 seconds because the game goes into overtime.