How the Dallas Cowboys Saved Their Season in 155 Seconds
It's not always possible to pinpoint an exact moment at which a season turns. Sometimes, those moments don't exist, and sometimes seasons only change shape in gradual fashion. But I have a feeling that if the Dallas Cowboys end up making a run and getting back into the playoffs this season, a 21-point stretch from the second half of Sunday's victory in Philadelphia will be looked at as the clear turning point.
The entire stretch spanned 155 seconds, or about two and a half minutes. In that window, the 'Boys stormed back from a seven-point deficit to take a 14-point lead, which they'd never surrender. Three touchdowns were scored, one from each phase of the game.
Let's take a look back at what happened during that frenzy and draw some sweeping conclusions in the process.
Third Quarter, 0 Minutes and 0 Seconds Remaining: Cowboys 10, Eagles 17
The Cowboys have a 3rd-and-4 on the Philadelphia 30-yard line. They had converted only one of their last six third downs at this point, and Tony Romo hadn't completed a touchdown pass of more than 26 yards since Week 1.
But Romo had a four-receiver set with Cole Beasley and Kevin Ogletree in the game, and the Eagles appeared to be entrusting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to cover Dez Bryant without safety help.
Romo recognized that opportunity to his right prior to the snap.
Fourth Quarter, 13 Minutes and 35 Seconds Remaining: Cowboys 17, Eagles 17
Four plays after an Anthony Spencer interception was negated by a Morris Claiborne penalty, the Cowboys force the Eagles to punt from their own 29-yard line. They hadn't scored on a punt or kick return since the 2010 season and had just two 20-plus-yard punt returns all season to this point.
The Eagles hadn't allowed a kick or punt return touchdown in 71 games, and Dwayne Harris had retrieved three punts earlier in the game for a grand total of 14 yards.
But Harris had something this time...
Three plays later, Dallas' defense has Philadelphia on a 2nd-and-7 from the Eagles 37-yard line. Prior to this game, the Cowboys defense had just three interceptions all season, and Brandon Carr—their $50 million free-agent prize from the offseason—had yet to pick off a pass. Only three teams in football had forced fewer turnovers than Dallas.
But Carr had solid coverage on DeSean Jackson, and he let rookie quarterback Nick Foles make a mistake.
If the Cowboys end up playing meaningful games in January, keep those three potential season-changing touchdowns in mind.
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