The little things: Cowboys come close, but no victory cigar

Cowboys vs. Saints

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 23: Jimmy Graham #80 of the New Orleans Saints makes a fumble recovery against Eric Frampton #27 of the Dallas Cowboys in overtime at Cowboys Stadium on December 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)



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WFAA Sports

Posted on December 24, 2012 at 3:57 AM

Updated Monday, Dec 24 at 5:04 AM

It had all the makings of another drama-filled come-from-behind win. Tight end Jason Witten certainly thought one was in the cards.
"When we hit that touchdown going to overtime, there was just that feeling on that sideline."
The Cowboys offense was explosive and dramatic but just not consisent enough. And against a team like the Saints, Dallas committed a cardinal sin. A DeMarco Murray fumble near the Cowboys goalline gave the Saints an opportunity to pounce, and Jason Garrett knows that was bound to prove costly.
"That was a big play in the ballgame. We did a good job taking care of the football except that one play. And when you're playing a team like the Saints, you can't afford to give them any freebies."
"The fumble.... should've never happened," said Murray. "That gave them seven points right there. ... You can't turn the ball over in this league, let alone against a guy like Drew Brees. We've just gotta take care of the ball and do the right things."
It really was a day of fits and starts for the Cowboys' offense. They were explosive at times - and unable to find a rythm at others. And that was the case when it mattered most.
After scoring two touchdowns in the the last four minutes of regulation, the Cowboys got the ball first in overtime, but couldn't convert on third and five. That  was the day in a nutshell.
Dez Bryant's 224-yard receiving day was the fourth-highest total in team history, but he and Tony Romo converted just one of their four third down attempts. The Cowboys as a team converted only two of their ten third down tries. Romo, who was masterful throughout the game (26/43, 416 yards and 4 touchdowns) was frustrated by the little things which tripped them up.
"We did a lot of good things in this ballgame. We just didn't make the play or two that can determine it. And when you go against a good offense -- and you've got a couple of good offenses out there -- it can come down to a catch," said the Cowboys Quarterback.
Tight end Jason Witten is just glad to get another chance.
"We have to be able to move forward. And if we've got an opportunity to go to the playoffs,[editor's note: they do. if they win, they're in] regardless, we've got to go play the Redskins, play them tough, and see where it falls." 
Owner Jerry Jones summed it up with some holiday perspective.
"It's very disappointing. The room's very disappointed. No way to have Christmas."
Thanks to the Ravens' win over the Giants, Romo and Co. get another shot at the playoffs. But if they can't do the small things better, New Year's Eve won't be any fun for Cowboy Nation, either. 

What did you think of the Cowboys' play this week? Do you think they'll make the playoffs? Tweet Joe at @JoeTrahan!