The Play: Claiborne pick finally exposes Gabbert

DALLAS - You may have been asked this question before but that’s OK I’m going to ask it again; if you had access to a time machine, what would you use it for?

Sure, like ninety per cent of people will say the thing about Hitler and that’s fine I guess but I’m really scared about the butterfly effect issue (you know, you travel back in time and kill a butterfly accidentally, suddenly when you go back to the present now everything is underwater and we use mason jars both to breathe and for bathroom, so you better keep your breathin’ jar and your bathroomin’ jar clearly labeled) so I’m going to keep it real small. [Editor's Note: Your definition of the butterfly effect may vary.]

By ‘real small’ I mean I’m going to steal blueprints for the time machine and give it to myself, then invent it myself and get that Elon Musk money, then go find the guy who invented it and find him in an airport Bennigan's and sit down with him and steal his french fries and say ‘no one’s ever going to believe you, but I did steal the time machine idea from you’ and leave him there, but I’d also pay his bill and leave an envelope with like a five hundred thousand dollar check in it for him at the concierge, just to really mess with him.

That, or I’d go tell myself after the first quarter of Sunday’s game that everything’s was going to be better soon.

The Play: 10:38 in the 4th, Dallas up 21-17, San Francisco 1st and 10 at the SF 45

Earlier in the game, Blaine Gabbert had his way with the Dallas secondary, including torching a blitz for the team’s second TD of the day (and what was probably Dallas’ last six-plus man rush of the year, thanks guys). But the Dallas noose had been tightening, and Gabbert was becoming more and more, well, Gabberty as the day went on, but he still hadn’t had that back-snapping straw tossed onto his team. Yet.

On first and 10, Gabbert takes the shotgun snap, and has one read; Torrey Smith on a flag route. In truth, it looked like Smith might have had just enough of a step on Morris Claiborne (covering in what appears to be man) that a well-placed ball could have meant six points. It’s tough to say, exactly, because that spacing could be explained by Morris reading the throw with enough time to sag back to make the INT.

This ball was not well placed. It was thrown at least five yards short, so bad that Claiborne had to make an adjustment to catch it with his back shoulder at about the 15, when it should have hit Smith in his front shoulder at about the 10. It had an awfully 4A JV feel about it. Future generations will study the geometry of this pass to learn about real-world applications of the Pythagorean Theorem.

Claiborne casually returned it to the 35 and went safely out of bounds there (are you taking notes, Terrance Williams?), handing the ball to Dak Prescott with a 71.4% chance to win, up from 55.6 before Gabbert went and Gabbert’d.

A 7 yard first and 10 saw Dallas burn a timeout on 2nd and 3 at 77.9% likelihood to win. Then, Ezekiel Elliott, as he had been doing since Navorro Bowman went down with an achilles injury, took a zone left 26 yards to the SF 35, and Dallas sat at 83.7%.

And that’s how you swing win percentage by 28 points over three plays. The Cowboys likely could have punctuated the sequence with a 95%+ chance had they hit pay dirt on that drive, instead, a Dan Bailey short field goal left them with 90.3% chance. That's still pretty good, but let’s hope the Cowboys don't get into the habit of failing to get seven after the defense gives the offense the ball, because this defense is not going to do it much.

What was the biggest play in Dallas' win over the 49ers on Sunday by your estimation? Let Joe know on Twitter @thejoeursery.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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