Cowboys QB Tony Romo vs. Dolphins pass rush
Who won: Romo.
Impact: Despite not having played since Week 2 with a broken collarbone that is still healing, Romo threw two touchdown passes, including a 16-yarder to Dez Bryant on the first play of the fourth quarter to give Dallas the lead for good. Dallas had lost seven consecutive games without Romo, who struggled early. The Dolphins twice put enough pressure on Romo to force hurried throws and two interceptions. But in the end, the veteran made enough plays and more than once evaded potential sacks to earn the Cowboys the victory.
Cowboys running backs vs. Dolphins run defense
Who won: Cowboys.
Impact: Romo’s return to action needed an assist from the Cowboys’ running game. Darren McFadden found room to run often and finished with 129 yards on 29 carries; and Robert Turbin added 35 yards on seven carries for a total of 166. Some of the Cowboys’ best efforts on the ground came on their final drive, when Dallas ran out most of the clock following a decision by Miami to punt with 6:43 left and down by 10. McFadden rushed for 15 yards on a third-and-14 from the Dallas 9 that ended any chance of a Dolphins comeback.
Dolphins special teams vs. Cowboys special teams
Who won: Cowboys
Impact: A miscue and poor kick return coverage helped Dallas seal the outcome of the game in the fourth quarter. After Dallas took a 21-14 lead, the ball bounced in the end zone toward the field of play and away from Jarvis Landry. As he scrambled to retrieve the ball, Landry recovered it at his own 4, pinning the Dolphins deep in their territory. The Dolphins were forced to punt later and Cowboys returner Lucky Whitehead took it 18 yards to the Miami 36; he then got an assist from Miami on a personal foul that moved the ball to the 21. This set up the key field goal that gave Dallas a 10-point lead. The poor play continued a recent trend by the Dolphins’ special teams, which had another kickoff return miscue last week in Philadelphia that led to a safety for the Eagles.