In my opinion, these plays were the most crucial to the lack of success in this game, contributing greatly to a Cowboys loss.
1. EARLY THIRD QUARTER, 9:39 LEFT, 1ST AND 10 FROM THE COWBOYS 13 YARD LINE – With the Chargers in shotgun formation and in a third wide receiver set, RB Danny Woodhead releases to the flat then cuts up field leaving a lacksadasically flat footed Bruce Carter in his dust for an easy pitch and catch touchdown to bring the Chargers to within one point. Earlier in the game, Woodhead schooled Carter for a touchdown from the slot and straight go route. Both touchdowns were embarrassing from an effort stand point from Carter which is likely why he was benched soon after. This touchdown however gave the Chargers a huge boost in momentum which carried on the rest of the game.
2. MID THIRD QUARTER, 6:24 LEFT, 3RD AND 11 FROM THE 50 YARD LINE – Tony Romo drops back, gets all day to throw and puts a ball right on the hands of Dez Bryant which would have resulted in a first down on the Chargers 38 yard line… except Dez dropped the ball. It’s hard to fault a guy who scored two touchdowns but this drop took the offense off the field. A field of which they would not see again until early in the fourth quarter, now down 23-21. Unfortunately, Dez was not the only Cowboys receiver to drop an easy catch as Dwayne Harris, Dez and Jason Witten all had big drops on third downs that killed drives in this game. Speaking of…
3. EARLY FOURTH QUARTER, 10:14 LEFT, 3RD AND 8 FROM THE CHARGERS 44 YARD LINE – After a holding penalty on Ronald Leary turned negated a first down and forced a 2nd and 14 situation, Romo completes a pass in the flat to Cole Beasley to set up 3rd and 8. Jason Witten runs a seam route and beats his man, turns to receive another timely pass from Romo… and drops it. If Witten makes the catch, the Cowboys are in business on the 19 or 20 yard line assuming no yards after the catch would have been gained and once again, would have been in position for at worst, a lead changing field goal. Instead, another drop equals another punt. As an added frustration, this drive marked the last time the Cowboys would attempt to run the ball, even though they averaged almost six yards per carry.