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With roughly 1,000 snaps on both sides of the ball, seasons can turn on a handful of plays.

That was certainly the case for the Dallas Cowboys in 2017. The fall from their 13-3 finish in 2016 to their 9-7 record this season seems precipitous, but in reality they are not that disparate.

Lost amid the 13-3 finish were the plays that tipped the season in their favor, like the overtime win against the Philadelphia Eagles or the late-game fumble recovery at the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys made the necessary plays — big and small — to win those games.

In 2017, they didn’t — and as a result have to watch the playoffs go on without them.

Four of the Cowboys’ seven losses in 2017 were by 20 or more points. But even in those games there were moments in which the results could have flipped.

In the 42-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 2, DeMarcus Lawrence was penalized for leverage on a field goal attempt. The Broncos turned that penalty into a touchdown and 14-7 lead in the second quarter. Perhaps if there is no penalty, the Cowboys rally from that moment.

In the 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys moved down the field on their opening drive of the second half mostly on the legs of Alfred Morris. After an 11-yard run to the Atlanta 12-yard line, the Cowboys went into shotgun on first-and-10 and Dak Prescott was sacked for a 7-yard loss by Adrian Clayborn. The next play lost 2 yards. The third-down play gained just 1 yard and Mike Nugent’s 38-yard field goal attempt hit the upright. Had the Cowboys stood by their powerful run game, knowing fill-in left tackle Chaz Green could not block Clayborn, maybe they grab a touchdown in that situation and make the score 17-14.

In those defeats, however, the Cowboys were listless and not competitive for large portions of the games.

But what about the three losses by less than 10 points?

Three plays stand out:

Los Angeles Rams

The Cowboys offense was rolling. They opened with a field goal and two touchdowns on their first three drives for a 17-6 lead, at which point they had nearly 200 yards of offense. The defense forced a Rams punt and the Cowboys could have taken the game by the throat with another score on their fourth drive of the game.

Instead, Ryan Switzer fumbled the punt and the Rams took over at the Dallas 18. The Rams scored a touchdown five plays later. The momentum had swung. The Cowboys led 24-16 at the half, but they never had the same control of the game. The Rams scored on seven of their last nine possessions in a 35-30 win.

Green Bay Packers

Trailing 28-24 late in the fourth quarter, Prescott put the Cowboys in position to win late against the Packers, just like he did in the divisional round of the playoffs last January. The Cowboys needed a replay review to convert a fourth-and-1 run for a first down by Ezekiel Elliott to the Packers’ 19, but Elliott then picked up 8 yards on first down.

The Cowboys had the Packers on their heels. Although they needed a touchdown, they also knew they could not leave Aaron Rodgers much time on the clock. On second-and-2, Prescott threw a fade to Dez Bryant in the end zone that fell incomplete. Instead of running the ball and chewing up more time, only six seconds ran off the clock. On the next play, Prescott used the zone-read to fool the Green Bay defense for a go-ahead touchdown. As great as that was, Rodgers still had 1:13 to pull off the comeback, which he did, throwing a touchdown pass to Davante Adams with 11 seconds remaining for a 35-31 win.

If the Cowboys had run the ball on second down, maybe they score there and the point is moot. But they threw it, and the worst-case scenario turned true.

Seattle Seahawks

Needing a win to remain alive in the playoffs, the Cowboys held a 6-0 lead in the second quarter against Seattle, which also needed a win to keep its postseason hopes alive. The Cowboys defense was badly flustering quarterback Russell Wilson, with Lawrence picking up a sack of 22 yards that forced a Seahawks punt from their own 8.

The Cowboys should have had terrific field position following the punt, but Kyle Wilber was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the return. Instead of having the ball at the Dallas 45, the Cowboys had it at their 35.

On first down, Bryant, who was brooding because of a lack of action his way early in the game, caught a 7-yard hitch from Prescott, but Byron Maxwell punched the ball free and K.J. Wright recovered. Five plays later, the Seahawks scored a touchdown for a 7-6 lead despite being thoroughly outplayed.

Prescott was intercepted twice in the second half, including one that was returned for a touchdown on the first drive of the third quarter, but the Bryant fumble started the downward trend in the Cowboys’ 21-12 loss.

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The Dallas Cowboys know they won’t have Ezekiel Elliott against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.The Cowboys have been preparing for this moment all season. On Aug. 11, the NFL made its initial announcement that Elliott would be suspended for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

A week ago at this time, the Cowboys thought they wouldn’t have Elliott against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Now they know they will not have him against the Falcons. It is possible he could play sooner than six games from now, depending on more legal maneuverings, but that is for another time.

Come Sunday, the Cowboys will rely on Alfred Morris, Rod Smith and Darren McFadden to do what Elliott has done essentially by himself this season.

Elliott has 191 carries for 783 yards and seven rushing touchdowns this season. Morris and Smith have combined for 24 carries for 184 yards on the season. Morris played in one snap against the Chiefs and gained 11 yards. Smith did not have a carry.

Ever since it became a possibility the Cowboys would need to rely on a running back or three not named Elliott, the coaches and players have expressed confidence in Morris, Smith and McFadden.

Morris has three 1,000-yard seasons to his credit and two Pro Bowl appearances. McFadden finished as the league’s fourth-leading rusher in 2015 when he ran for 1,089 yards. Smith is the most unknown, but could be the running back that ends up getting the most work in Elliott’s absence.

Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said Thursday not much changes with the Cowboys’ running game plan without Elliott. He can say that because of an offensive line that boasts three All-Pro selections: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin.

Smith, however, has not practiced this week because of a groin injury, and he is iffy at best to play Sunday. Dez Bryant said he expects to play against the Falcons after not practicing the last two days because of ankle and knee injuries, but it might not be his call.

So a Cowboys offense that has been rolling the past five weeks — they have scored at least 28 points in each game — won’t have Elliott, might not have Smith and could have a banged-up Bryant.

Dak Prescott has played better in his second year than he did in his first, but he has not played a full game without Elliott in his career. That will be different no matter what the coaches say.

Without Elliott, defenses will not have to use an extra defender to slow the run, unless the Cowboys can prove their running game can have the same impact with Morris, Smith and McFadden. Without Elliott, Prescott will see tighter windows in which to throw. Without Elliott, the receivers will see extra attention.

Through it all, the Cowboys believe they will be able to move the ball. Most of McFadden’s 1,089 yards came without Tony Romo at quarterback in 2015. He had Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore at quarterback and still piled up 100-yard games.

It is possible for the Cowboys to still find success, but they will find their margin for error a little slimmer without Elliott going forward.

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The Dallas Cowboys will have to learn what life is like without running back Ezekiel Elliott.

U.S. District Court Judge Katherine Failla declined Elliott’s request for a preliminary injunction on Monday that would have prevented the NFL’s six-game suspension for violating the personal conduct policy, which means he will be placed on the suspended list. Pending the results of an appeal, Elliott will not be able to return until Dec. 17 against the Oakland Raiders.

A Cowboys’ season that started to look and feel a lot like 2016 with the way Elliott had run the ball the past three games, may now become unpredictable.

The Cowboys have expressed faith in Elliott’s replacements: Alfred Morris, Darren McFadden and Rod Smith. But none can do what Elliott can. The Cowboys hope three of them can combine to replace Elliott’s production.

While the news is disappointing, it’s not as if the Cowboys were unprepared for the possibility.

“The way we’ve constructed our roster has taken his situation into account. We have some veteran running backs,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We have some depth at that position. It’s not like we’re just living this day and we don’t think about the future at all. You have to do that. I think you build your team that way at all positions. If this guy is not able to play, who’s your backup? Who can go in? We try to do that with our offensive line, receivers, running backs, all throughout our defense. That’s the way you construct your team, and you’re always thinking about those scenarios. We’ll take it one day at a time and we’ll see what his situation is. Regardless, we’re going to go forward and try to play our best football.”

Morris has three 1,000-yard seasons to his credit but his last came in 2014. McFadden was fourth in the NFL in rushing in 2015 with the Cowboys, but he has been inactive for every game this season. Smith has shown some promise but has 74 yards rushing in his career.

If the Cowboys are to continue to succeed with the running game without Elliott, then it will be because of their offensive line.

Elliott had a difficult start to the season, although it wasn’t just him. The entire ground game was out of whack. Where there were creases a year ago, the Cowboys found defenders. Where there were big plays a year ago, the Cowboys found negative runs.

But in the fourth quarter of the loss to the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 8, it all changed. Elliott ran 13 times for 85 yards in the fourth quarter. Coming off the bye week, he ran 26 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers. He added two more touchdowns against the Redskins on Sunday despite Washington using eight- and nine-man fronts.

“We’re executing better,” All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “That’s really all that there is to it. We’re sticking on blocks and Zeke is running extremely hard.”