What If...Jason Witten and Dez Bryant Hadn't Dropped Those Passes in Seattle?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 19, 2012

Sep 16, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) drops a pass during the 1st half against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

In 2011, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten dropped a grand total of five passes combined, according to Pro Football Focus. But Witten and Bryant matched that number in less than three hours Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

Tomorrow, I promise we'll shift the attention to this Sunday's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but let's relive painful memories one more time by reviewing those five fateful drops to determine how things might have changed if not for the careless mistakes committed by usually reliable players.


Drop No. 1
10:33 remaining in the first quarter
Cowboys 0, Seahawks 0
3rd-and-5 on the Dallas 21-yard line 

A weak pass from Romo bounces off of Witten's hands in fairly tight coverage. Still, it's a play Witten should make, and in this case, it's a drive-killer, handing the Seahawks early momentum.

The Cowboys would have had a first down at the 27-yard line. Instead, they punt. 

And that punt is blocked, resulting in a Seattle touchdown. Down 7-0, the Cowboys would have to march back onto the feel in flustered fashion, leading to...


Drop No. 2
6:44 remaining in the first quarter
Cowboys 0, Seahawks 7
1st-and-10 on the Seattle 24-yard line

The Cowboys actually stole some momentum back with a decent drive down the field, but everything stalled on back-to-back dud plays. It all started with Bryant dropping a pass that would have given Dallas a first down at the Seattle 11-yard line.

Instead, on second down, Romo was intercepted and the Cowboys ended up with nothing. More momentum for the Seahawks.


Drop No. 3
14:18 remaining in the second quarter
Cowboys 0, Seahawks 10
2nd-and-8 on the Seattle 45-yard line

Romo has a wide-open Witten at the 25-yard line, but it banks off of Witten's hands in extremely uncharacteristic fashion.

The Cowboys would recover, though, and score four plays later. So this drop didn't ultimately hurt them.


Drop No. 4
9:21 remaining in the second quarter
Cowboys 7, Seahawks 10
3rd-and-2 on the Dallas 22-yard line

The Cowboys are back in the game and have just stopped the Seahawks on a three-and-out. They're trying to avoid a three-and-out of their own on third-and-two, and Bryant has a first-down catch in his mitts.

But he can't hang on, thanks in part to a timely hit from Earl Thomas. 

PFF didn't technically score this a drop, but Bryant should have had it. Seattle would again score on the ensuing drive to add to its lead.


Drop No. 5
7:51 remaining in the fourth quarter
Cowboys 7, Seahawks 27
1st-and-10 on the Dallas 19-yard line

Last chance for the Cowboys, down 20 with less than eight minutes to play. Witten is open and targeted on a throw that will get them seven or eight yards out of the gate.

But he drops it.

Romo would be sacked on the next play, leading to a three-and-out. Game over.


Would the Cowboys have lost regardless? Maybe. Probably, even. But it's notable that turnovers directly followed two of the drops, and only one was followed by a positive play. 

Seattle probably wouldn't have blocked that punt had Witten secured the first ball, and Romo might not have been intercepted had Bryant caught the second pass. Considering the latter drop took place inside the red zone, that's at least a 10-point swing.

And had the Cowboys found the end zone on that possession, it was at least a 14-point difference. Then you have to consider whether the Cowboys might have ended up scoring on that first drive, as well as what might have come from drops four and five, both of which helped spoil drives. 

With all that considered, I'd have to imagine that without those drops, the Cowboys would have had a chance to win this game in the final minutes.